Photograhing the Shiprock in New Mexico

The Navajo call the Shiprock formation, Tse Bitai – “the winged rock.” I have wanted to photograph this terrific subject for some time and we finally made it out to Farmington a few months back. Here is what you might see.

There are many many photos of this subject on the internet, Like most landscapes, it looks better in the low light of sunrise and sunset and always looks best with some weather. Mary and I planned to do two sunsets here and opted for the entrance roads on the south western side. We shot color and infrared converted to monochrome. We were disappointed in all the trash and beer bottles strewn about.

The Shiprock formation is just outside the town of Shiprock, NM, but the town does not have any commercial lodging, so you will have to stay in Farmington, which is an hour away. Plan accordingly. Use your mapping software to find Indian Service Route 13. There are two decent dirt roads on the right side near the dike that lead toward the formation.

Shiprock is a volcanic monadnock. It has two dikes, one that runs north/south on the south side of the rock and another dike that runs east/west on the west side of the formation. If you take the road nearest the dike, you can scramble up it to put the dike in the foreground. Mary and I opted to stay low and concentrate on the formation.

Our first sunset was a cold, windy, bald day and a general bust for photography, but it was a good scouting trip and we got to know the area a bit.

Our second evening was also cold and windy, but we got a little weather. I was hoping for a spectacular sunset with oranges and yellows, but we had really low clouds and got a sunset of blues and purples. It was still an amazing experience and I can’t wait to go back for more.

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