For sometime now I've lamented never having gotten a good shot of either of the Twin Arches at the Big South Fork. Determined to remedy that, I got together with my friend Quentin Jones, and we hit the trail.
The Twin Arches Loop trail is a very short and easy trail. It leads to probably the most spectacular landform in the Big South Fork, two huge sandstone arches. The dimensions are listed on Tennessee Landforms as 92x70 feet, but I'm not sure which arch that is in reference to.
There are numerous obstacles to getting a good photo of the arches. The first being that they are so huge it's hard to frame them without obscuring them with trees. The next problem is trying to not blow out or underexpose any part of the image.
I really wish that I could get to shoot at dawn or dusk and it would help eliminate that problem. But for some reason my schedule always gets me to my location at about the worst time of day, when the sun is directly overhead. Furthermore, it seems that I'm always shooting directly into the sun. One day I'll learn that sleeping in never facilitates the best photographs.
Back to the problems with shooting the arches. I intended to overcome the necessity of a wide-angle lens by shooting a photo matrix. If you're not familiar with a matrix, it's like a panorama, but along 2 axis as opposed to one. In other words, x number of images wide and y number of images high. In this case, 2 images high by about 4 - 5 images wide managed to capture (reasonably well) the arches.
As for not over or under-exposing the shots, I was only marginally successful in that. By taking 5 bracketed photos (+4/-4 ev) I was able to get a much wider spectrum of light in each photo.
The full set of photos can be seen here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/chucksutherland/sets/72157625137407632/with/5082358489/