Travel Tips 

Canyonlands National Park: Black and White

Here at Visit USA Parks we are lucky to work with some amazing photographers. On a fall trip to Canyonlands National Park in Utah, photographer Harry Wade took his time capturing some amazing black and white shots. While the Canyonlands are known for their dramatic red and orange colors, Harry Wade’s skills show us these canyons in, quite literally, a whole new light. Canyonlands National Park could not have a better name. The endless slot canyons created by the Colorado River create an other-worldly atmosphere. It’s truly unlike anywhere else on this planet, and Wade puts his own spin on this iconic national park.
Prepared By:

Alana B.

Adventurer & Photographer

Yellowstone Boardwalk

Wade draws much of his inspiration from the work of Ansel Adams, Sabastaio Salgado, and Robert Mapplethorpe. His play with light and shadow truly allows viewers to see the depth of Canyonlands National Park, an aspect that can be easily overlooked in color photography.

Yellowstone Boardwalk
Yellowstone Boardwalk

The exposure and shadow play are aspects fairly unique to Wade’s landscape photography, helping the viewer question what they are really looking at. Playing with perspective through light creates a disconnect, forcing one’s brain to logically consider size and scale while looking at an image that disorients those typically concrete notions.

Yellowstone Boardwalk
Yellowstone Boardwalk

According to photographer QT Luong in his a article about photographing the Mesa Arch, “Reflected light is the key to many of the great photographs of the Colorado Plateau. Almost always enhancing the subject, reflected light is soft and directional at the same time, which is why reflectors of various sizes are used in sophisticated lighting setups. Moreover, the reflected light from the sandstone is much warmer than direct light, so when it reaches another patch of sandstone, it will cause it to glow with surreal, warm colors.”

Yellowstone Boardwalk
Yellowstone Boardwalk

The “surreal, warm colors” Luong talks about don’t disappear when photographed in black and white. They merely appear in different shades and intensities. In Wade’s work, the shadows no longer serve to highlight the colors, but become one of the major forces themselves. Canyonlands National Park is the perfect playground to explore all the natural forces that interact with light and shadow. Between water, sky, and cliff, the opportunities are endless.

Yellowstone Boardwalk
Yellowstone Boardwalk

Locating the best light to bounce off the canyon walls is no easy feat, but Wade uses the light to his advantage. In the photograph below, he not only uses the direct sunlight to cut a hole in the left cliff side, but to catch a gentle reflection of it off the right cliff. In the following photograph, the same view is captured at a slightly different moment. Note the huge difference in how the water appears in each, based on the source of light.

Yellowstone Boardwalk
Yellowstone Boardwalk

Feeling inspired? Explore our road trip itineraries and National Park guides and plan your trip to Canyonlands! Follow our Photography Tips board on Pinterest to help you take photos like Harry Wade’s. For more information on Canyonlands National Park, click here. View more of Harry Wade’s black and white images here. Follow him on instagram @hittheroadharry

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