Let it Burn

This is a shot from the “House on Fire” Ruins in Mule Canyon in Utah. The sun was high in the sky when we arrived, but the ruins are in shade under a shelf of rock. The stone structures are incredible all by themselves, but when the harsh mid-day light reflects off the sandstone at your feet, it makes the ceiling glow with a brilliant light. That’s what we were after. And we got it.

We’ve seen this effect in countless canyons. The light bounces off one wall onto another, and the reflected light makes the canyon glow. Here, though, the unusual patterns on the ceiling add a whole different dimension to the photo.

I used a wide-angle lens to get as much of the ceiling in the shot as possible. The lens adds a bit of distortion – which also adds some depth to the image. For this shot, I turned the camera at an angle to remove the foreground rocks and help simplify the photo. Post-processing was minimal. I used the default “shade” white balance in Photoshop – and brightened up the ruins by about a third of a stop. I left the “flames” alone.

Who’s been here? I found out this morning (too late) that there are hand-prints in an alcove nearby! I was in that alcove, but didn’t see them. Darn! I guess I’ll just have to go back! Anyway – if you haven’t been, it’s an easy hike and worth a trip. Definitely!

8 replies
  1. Robin Black
    Robin Black says:

    I LOVE the angle you chose for this! I visited this ruin twice last year–the second time was just a month after my first visit, an in impromptu meet-up with a photographer friend. Both times I was struck by the beauty of this canyon, and the remote Cedar Mesa area has become one of my favorite places in the southwest.

  2. Gina
    Gina says:

    I love this photograph. It’s beautiful. I have not been here, but I have driven through Utah many times. It is a scenic route. :)

  3. Stanley McPartland
    Stanley McPartland says:

    Hi Varina, The hand prints are about 30 yards north of the ruin between 2 large rock formations. You’ll see a single hand print right in from of you as you walk through. Look to your left and up to see a group of 4 hand prints. We couldn’t find those on our first visit. Here’s a link to a shot of the 4 (https://plus.google.com/photos/117456740185016645054/albums/5738335378530184417/5738335381401824402). Thanks for sharing all of your wonderful images. — Stan


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