I had a chance last week to spend a few hours at Devil’s Tower National Monument near Hulett, Wyoming. I’ve been there before, several times in fact, but this was the first time I had the opportunity to photograph Devils Tower at sunset.
The evening I got there didn’t bode well for photography, however. The skies were heavily overcast, and although there was no rain, the tower looked flat and dead. Don’t get me wrong, there is always something magical about Devil’s Tower. If you’ve been there, you know that. But I’ve visited the tower numerous times, and this day it looked as lifeless as I’ve ever seen it.
For most of the hour or so before dusk, I moved around the area looking for the best spot to catch the tower at sunrise the next day. Since the leaden evening skies were uncooperative, I didn’t carry a tripod or plan to take anything other than exploratory photos. I didn’t even bother to bring a monopod on my hike around the tower. I just slung the camera around my neck and took a walk.
Other than a few critters here and there, it was a fairly uneventful walk, too.
That is, until the very last moment before the sun set. At that moment, I was walking down the tower road back toward my truck, which was parked on the southwest side of the monument.
Suddenly the tower lit up against the gray sky. And I mean lit up. For about a minute and a half, the final rays of the sun found a gap in the clouds and set the tower afire.
There is very little tweaking with this photo, just some levels adjustment and noise control. I didn’t touch the saturation. This is just as it so briefly appeared to the few visitors at the tower that evening last week. It was very intense:
Handheld at 1/60, it’s not the sharpest photo I’ve taken, but it’ll have to do.
The next morning conditions were more promising. As I drove toward the tower from Sundance, I could see a few stars through the patchy morning fog. Good stuff for a photographer.
There’s nothing special about the photos I took…it’s Devil’s Tower itself that’s special. It can and will change colors right before your eyes. Go if you can.
An October dawn breaks on Devil’s Tower:
Clicking on any photo above will take you to the full gallery of Devil’s Tower images, as will clicking on this link: http://www.lodgetrail.com/devils_tower