Dean M. Chriss
San Juan Canyons and Monument Valley, Sunrise

San Juan Canyons and Monument Valley, Sunrise

(Click image to enlarge)

I first photographed this scene in 2007. Since then I have photographed it at least a dozen times and spent the nicest Thanksgiving day sunrise of my life here. The photographic results have varied widely due mostly to weather. Skies range from totally cloudy and drab to clear blue, but the big problem is usually wind. As with all large canyons, morning winds fueled by changing temperatures at sunrise are often strong enough to prevent any hope of sharp photographs. The photograph above is my most recent attempt and the best so far. It is among the sharpest and most detailed I have ever made. I probably cannot do better, but that won't keep me from returning.

The convoluted canyons of the San Juan River set the foreground for this sunrise over the distant Monument Valley. Many Monument Valley formations can be seen in the background, as can Agathla Peak over thirty miles away in the upper center of the photograph. There are very few places where one can still look across such a vast and undeveloped expanse, but even here that is starting to change.