Monument Valley Layered View (Arizona)

Monument Valley is one of the most spectacular locations I have visited in my entire life. It is both breathtaking and overwhelming all at once. I do not think you can properly convey the scale and beauty of the valley through photography. You simply must visit it yourself.

At the same time, the visit to Monument Valley in Arizona has its own challenges. It is located on the Navajo Indian reservation and, as a result, has tribal restrictions. You can only drive along a 13-mile dirt road loop during the day; you are not allowed to hike or explore the park on your own.

This creates some limitations in regard to photography. For example, the sunset or sunrise photography is limited in the summer months because the park is only open between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m.

I planned on taking a paid, guided sunrise photography tour, but I could not make it work with my schedule.

I took the featured photo during my drive along the 13-mile Scenic Drive loop. I drove slowly and tried to spot any opportunities for an interesting composition so that I could stop and take a few shots along the way.

Monument Valley Layered View (Arizona) 1
Arizona. Monument Valley
Loc: 36.944012, -110.062333


The only challenge was to find the right angle for the shot. I parked the car at the side of the road and walked along it to find the best angle.

Camera: Sony a6000
Lens: Sony 16-70mm
Focal Length:28mm(Hyperfocal Distance: 4.9m)
Shooting Mode: Aperture Priority (A)
ISO: 100
Aperture: F8
Shutter Speed: 1/400s
Tripod: handheld

Editing & Processing

It was a single RAW processing workflow.

Lightroom (80%)

I kept the original aspect ratio (3 x 2) but I cropped the image to improve the composition (The Crop Overlay Tool).

Next, I used Natural preset from my Landscape Preset Collection as the base for Lightroom Rapid Editing. Then I used the TOOLKIT to boost the Contrast.

The Lightroom Preset Editing Formula: Natural (1, 9, 13, 40)

Photoshop (20%)

In Photoshop, I used the Stamp Tool to cover the cars in the distance. The rest was a simple boost of details and noise reduction.
PluginsDeNoise (noise reduction), Topaz Detail (local contrast boost).

Total time: 12min

Before & After Transformation


by Viktor Elizarov
I am a travel photographer and educator from Montreal, Canada, and a founder of PhotoTraces. I travel around the world and share my experiences here. Feel free to check my Travel Portfolio and download Free Lightroom Presets.

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