Behind The Lens: Cathedral Gorge

“Castles in the Sky”  Rock formations in an alien landscape, Cathedral Gorge State Park, Nevada USA. Canon EOS 5D Mark IV, Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L USM lens @ 11mm, 1/125 second @ f/11, ISO 100. Converted to B&W in Adobe Lightroom.

Cathedral Gorge

Tucked into the southeastern corner of Nevada sits Cathedral Gorge State Park, a narrow, deeply-eroded valley exquisitely carved into the surface of the high desert. At first glance, Cathedral Gorge looks like a first-rate destination for creative landscape photographers, yet I found creating compelling compositions much more difficult than expected. I needed to work long and hard for a solid week in order to come away with just a handful of images that did justice to both the location and my own personal vision. A handful of images, in this case, could be considered a success.

One of those images is the one you see above, Castles in the Sky. It’s a rather pedestrian scene, to be honest, if not for the wonderful, streaming clouds overhead. The use of my Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L USM lens at its widest focal length (11mm on a full-frame DSLR!) distorted the clouds, curving their direction mostly in a dramatic sweeping gesture from left to the upper right.

At the bottom of the image frame, there are a few random rock fragments that trail off to the lower left of the image frame. This creates the perfect counterbalance to the opposite effect in the top of the image, creating visual motion in the form of a subtle “S” curve,

Visual Motion

Visual motion is the illusion of actual movement in the image or the movement the viewer’s eye takes when exploring visual elements within the image frame. When a viewer first looks at a photograph or piece of visual art, their eyes will move throughout the image from element to element on a particular path. Those with the heaviest visual weight will command the most immediate attention followed by less significant elements, as lines, shapes, and patterns help guide the visual motion from one area to another. This is key to creating dynamic compositions as well as controlling and manipulating the viewer’s experience. Establishing visual motion in Castles in the Sky – with the abstract “S” curve – saved at least one image for me during my visit to Cathedral Gorge.

Castles in the Sky was captured with a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV DSLR and Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L USM lens and processed in Adobe Lightroom.

Castles in the Sky can be licensed or purchased as a print here.

Richard Bernabe is a professional photographer specializing in travel, wildlife, and nature as well as an author of books, magazine articles, and travel essays published world-wide. Richard is a global influencer is the fields of photography, travel, and wildlife conservation with more than one million followers on social media platforms. He leads several photography tours and workshops all over the world and is invited to speak to photography and conservation groups all across the globe. For more great information on new images, gear reviews, book projects, and photography workshops and tours, Sign Up For Our Newsletter.