Photographer Terrance Siemon waits in line and dives for cover to capture extraordinary images on camera

horseshoe bend colorado river arizona
Horseshoe Bend near Page, Arizona, has become a popular stop for photographers over the years.Terrance Siemon
Horseshoe Bend

Horseshoe Bend on the Colorado River can be a zoo, with ridiculous crowds. For this image, after waiting in line to get to the “spot,” I had to work quickly so I wasn’t that guy hoarding the good light. I took a few shots and moved out of the way.

To get the shot I wanted – a sunburst above the horizon – I needed to create a composite of two images. I took one image exposed properly for the river and foreground. The other was taken from the same spot but I needed to use a photography trick to get the sunburst. When shooting the sun, the smaller the aperture the more sunburst you will get. An aperture setting of f/16 or f/22 allows for only a pinhole of light to reach the image sensor. It worked, creating the effect I was hoping for.

The sun resting on the horizon accentuates the burst. The downside to shooting at a small exposure is that everything else in the frame is underexposed. For this image to work, the first image needed the foreground properly exposed. With that accomplished, I stacked the two images to create the final image. For composites like this you need to use a stationary tripod to keep the same composition for both photographs.

For a behind the scenes look at me taking the photo, check out the Youtube video by friend and fellow photographer Gavin Malm:

Hardrock 100 Horseshoe Bend
A photo of Kilian Jornet crossing the summit of Handies Peak during the 2017 Hardrock 100.Terrance Siemon
Hardrock 100

In July of 2017 I was on assignment for Adventure Pro Magazine to get a photo of Kilian Jornet racing the Hardrock 100 at the summit of Handies Peak.

That morning I tracked Jornet’s position and figured he would reach the summit around 11:30 a.m. Throughout the morning, storm clouds gathered in the distance, and by late morning they were bearing down on Handies. I was one of a handful of photographers on the summit. Radio chatter announced that Jornet (in first place with a broken collar bone) was about 15 minutes from the top. 

Some people left, while a few of us stayed at the summit. In those final minutes, I heard a click, like fingers snapping. Then a spark came off the top of my head, followed by a white flash that completely surrounded me. The sound of the thunder was deafening. I felt a jolt travel through my arms and out my hands. To this day, I have no idea how I survived.

And then came the hail, just as Jornet was heading my way. I had to collect my bearings and retreated from the summit to a scree field 50 yards below. I laid down, and threw my rain fly over me. Right then he ran by — cheerful even with one arm dangling. 

I managed to snap a few shots of him from the ground — including the shot pictured — and then hike down the mountain, soaked from the pouring rain and still very confused about what had just happened.