Allan Vasenius

Auf meiner letzten USA Reise habe ich im Mai 2011 beim Versuch einen Permit für den Hike zur Wave zu ergattern einen Amerikaner aus Los Angeles kennen gelernt. Allan ist ein dufter Typ und wir hatten viel Spaß zusammen. Er hat mir damals erzählt, dass es einige Tage später im Monument Valley an zwei Tagen eine spezielle Konstellation von Sonne und Tafelbergen geben wird. Wir haben uns dort wieder getroffen und mein Bild dieses Events habe ich den „Vasenius Shadow“ genannt. Sein Sohn hat eine Weile später in Web aus Spaß mal nach seinem Namen gesucht und dann ein Video eines verrückten Deutschen gefunden der etwas von einem „Vasenius Schatten“ erzählt hat. Das war ich!

Kurz drauf hat Allan mir von diesem Gespräch in dieser E-Mail berichtet:

Hi Ansgar,

Hope all is going well with you.

I took the attached image inside the Bellagio in Las Vegas. The overhead ceiling was a muddy yellow color, so with the magic of Photoshop, I changed it to cobalt.

My son Fred, found and asked me if I knew about it. So, I told him the story.


Hier sind nun einige Bilder die Allan mir in den letzten Monaten zugeschickt hat. Immer wenn es Wetter schön ist betankt er seinen alten Pickup und fährt in die entlegensten Ecken der USA. Wirklich schöne Fotos sind dabei schon entstanden.

Hier eine kleine Auswahl seiner Bilder:

The Vasenius Shadow at Monument Valley

Und hier ist seine Geschichte:

Hi Ansgar,

I prepared a trip report for some of my friends. So, without further ado, here it is.

I hit the road in my Ford f-150 truck, around 2:10 am on Friday March 25 in a light drizzle. The route I chose was to take freeways into Utah. Leaving Los Angeles, that meant I needed to go over the Cajon Pass on the I15. I was a bit concerned as I gained altitude, the outside temperature reading steadily approached freezing. Ice on the roads can be a very dangerous thing. Just as I neared the Cajon summit, I entered a cloud (looked like fog) and had to slow down to about 25 mph due to the limited visibility. Thankfully, I soon reached the summit, and everything cleared up. In fact in stars suddenly became visible. What a contrast!

I proceeded on through Barstow and on to Las Vegas where I refueled. Soon, I reached the Nevada/Arizona border and then the Utah border and St. George Utah. Just north of St. George, I left the freeway system and picked up the road that goes through Zion National Park. As I had been there a number of times in the past, I just enjoyed the scenery as I proceeded for the east exit and soon thereafter picked up highway 89 going south.

I had arranged with Steve Dodson of Paria Outpost to take me out to South Coyote Buttes, but the date was uncertain. I checked in with the BLM (Burea of Land Management) at the nearby Paria Contact station. The weather did not look very good until Monday for South Coyote until Monday. So, I decided to try for the Wave lottery on Saturday (see below) and to get my South Coyote permit on Sunday for Monday (more on this later). I phoned Steve and arranged to go on Monday. Steve and Susan Ddson do not live at the Paria Outpost, but it serves as a meeting place. Currently, the open for barbeque beef, chicken and salmon on the first Friday-Sunday weekend of April through September.

I left and proceeded south on US 89 a few more miles and stopped at the Toadstool Hoodoo parking lot. From there, it is about a 30-45 minute hike up to the hoodoos. As I had only seen photos of the toadstools, it was an awesome moment to be standing in the presence of them. I set up my tripod and took some photos.

At this point, I would like to describe my camera gear. I have a pack that contains all five of my lenses, my camera and a number of other accessories. I use a secondary pack to carry just my camera, as 14-24 mm lens, a 24-70 mm lens, and several plastic bottles of drinking water. I have a GPS unit that I clip to a belt loop on my pants. This arrangement lightens the load while hiking.

From there, I drove on to Page AZ, had dinner and returned back to the Paria Outpost. There, I slept in the back of my truck and went over to the contact station in the morning for the lottery. Let me explain the system. There are folks from all over the world who want to visit the Wave located in the north Coyote Buttes. BLM requires all (except for licensed guides) to obtain one of the 20 permits issues each day. Four months before they hold a lottery via the internet for 10 of the 20 permits. Then, the day before, they hold a lottery for the other 10 permits at 9:00 am. They open the station at 8:30, so in that half hour folks fill out a form and numbers are assigned to each application. After the drawing, the winners are issues permits for the next day and briefed as to how to find the place.

While waiting for 9:00 to arrive, I met a visitor from Germany – Ansgar Hillebrand. We both lost out and decided to explore the country together that day. I parked my truck at PO and we took off in his 4WD Chevrolet Tahoe. We took a dirt road known as Rockhouse Valley Road from US 89 to US 89A. We passed through an area where condors have been transplanted, but did not spot any. The sky was overcast, and condors often fligh very high. In fact, the American Indians called them thunder birds because they flew so high.

We stopped to photograph some nicely backlit Cholla cactus.

Heading south on US 89A, we stopped at a place with some very interesting rocks and spent about an hour there photographing. Just a short drive further south brought us to the Navajo bridge that spans the Colorado River. Before crossing the Colorado, we went over to Lee’s Ferry. This is the location where folks normally start a float trip through the Grand Canyon. Also, power boats launch here and go upstream to Horseshoe bend and Glen Canyon Dam.

We subsequently crossed the river, proceeded to where 89A ends as it meets 89. Heading north on 89, we made a couple of stops and then had dinner in Page AZ. Then, on to my truck. Ansgar continue further north about 40 miles to his motel room in Kanab UT.

When the contact station opened on Sunday, I obtained my South Coyote Buttes permit. They only issue ten permits for the next day, but presently, a lottery is not needed (at least at this time of year). Hearing that there was snow to the north, I decided to head that way and visit Bryce Canyon NP. They roads were plowed to the turn-off for Bryce point parking lot, but closed beyond that. They were plowing beyond the closure, so it was just a matter of time before the higher road would open.

I photographed the Bryce hoodoos at various locations. Most folks miss seeing them accented with snow. I look forward to doing my post processing of those images.

The next day, Steve arrived and we were off to an adventure that would last for more than 12 hours. Our first stop was South Coyote Buttes. Needles to say, travel was over unpaved roads that kept getting worse as the day developed.

Normally, there is a two person minimum, but I was fortunate to be Steve’s only customer that day. He soon understood what kind of images I sought and we found a number of exciting spots.

After quickly eating lunch (who wants to have a leisurely lunch when there is so much to do and see), we headed for White Pocket. The road had two ruts in fine desert sand that were almost a foot deep. Having 4WD (four wheel drive) is not enough. One needs to know how to drive in the sand to keep from getting stuck. Often it entails driving fairly fast. Also, it is necessary to stop every so often to open and close a cattle gate. Typically, a gate is just some barb wire strung between two stout post and some smaller supporting posts between. There is a loop of wire around one of the posts at the top that needs to be slipped off. Then, the post is lifted off of a loop of wire at the bottom. The “gate” is then pulled so that it can lay in the sand just off of the road. The vehicle is then moved forward and the gate is reset. It takes a moderate amount of strength to perform the opening and closing operations.

White Pocket was even more sensational than South Coyote. There are lots of interesting photo possibilities there. One needs to view the images in order to begin to get the concept as to what is there.

When sunset was nearing, we quickly departed and headed for Paw Hole and the teepees. Our arrival was just before sunset. All I can say is, “What a sight!!!” From there where headed back and it was soon dark while still travelling over unpaved roads.

On Tuesday, I headed for Page AZ, had breakfast and proceeded to Kayenta AZ and refueled. From there, it was a northward trip to Monument Valley. Just at the Utah/Arizona border, I took the road to the Monument Valley tribal park. I made arrangements to park my truck at the Wildcat Mesa campground. I scouted various locations to find the best viewpoint for shooting the Mittens at sunset. It turned out, that based on my vision for an image, the best spot was right there at Wildcat Mesa. I had thought that the visitor’s center would be better. I drove around to various sights within the valley. Then, returning to the mesa, things did not look very good because there the skies were overcast and there was a strong wind. Then, about half an hour before sunset, the clouds broke in the western sky and the lighting was good. It seemed that the sun was lighting various places oft an on and then suddenly after being in some shadow, left mitten was casting its shadow on right mitten. I started clicking away and was awestruck by the event. The shadow was moving ever closer to the center of right mitten and then the shadow intensity started to fade. The thumb of left mitten faded to the point that it virtually disappeared. I was joyful to have been there at that time and to have seen it all.

Let me tell you about a technical problem that I had been struggling with over the last few days. My camera has a timer that records date and time of each photo. But, there is a drift in the clock and I needed to know within a second or two the exact UCT (Universal Coordinated Time) when a photo was taken so that I could subsequently determine the exact angular conditions for photographing the shadow event. On Tuesday afternoon, I had a breakthrough and determined how to use my GPS unit to gain that precision. Without going into all of the details, my BPS unit only gives a readout to the minute and not the second. Also, GPS time differs from UCT by 15 seconds in 2011. The technical reasons for all of this are not worth explaining at this point. But, I was able to adjust things so that I would record the needed information and could correct it later.

Based on previous calculations, it looked like Wednesday would have the sun in a better position than was the case on Tuesday. So, it was my plan to return then. After spending the night on Wildcat Mesa, I headed north into Utah and the Valley of the Gods. The road through that area is a dirt road that required fording a shallow stream just after starting westward. I shot a number of interesting views. One thing in particular about the roads was that at times, the grade was so steep near a crest, that the road disappeared from view. The truck was pointed up and all I could do was to move forward over unseen road. At times, it would be necessary to turn right or left just after cresting. So, naturally it is a time to move slowly with caution. After just a few seconds, the truck would level and the road would come into view once again.

After leaving the Valley of the Gods, I was just a couple of miles for the famous Moki Dugway. During the 1950’s, they mined uranium on the Navajo Reservation to the south, transported the ore north to Mexican Hat UT where it was milled. Then, the milled ore was moved out of the region. In order to do that, they needed a way to get over Cedar Mesa. So, they developed the Moki Dugway. See

for further details.

After going up the dugway, I returned back down and headed over to Utah’s Goosenecks State Park. Even though I have seen it several times in the past, it is always an awesome sight to view. See

The sunset shadow did not happen on Wednesday due to overcast conditions. Happily, I met up with my German friend Ansgar. On Tuesday, he was at the Visitor’s Center while I was on Wildcat. I had told him about the event on Saturday when we met and he decided that he wanted to see it. Just after sunset, we had one of the most brilliant red skies that I have ever witnessed. It seems that there was a high pressure ridge that cleared away the clouds just over the horizon, so that resulted in the fantastic color.

On Thursday morning, I left dark and early for the Paria Contact Station and had breakfast in Page. I entered the lottery for the Wave and to my delight I one. There were 50 people competing for ten positions, so I consider myself fortunate.

I was filled with anticipation on Friday when I woke the on Friday, headed over to Rockhouse Valley Road and on to the parking lot for the trail. I carried a lot of water bottles and drank all of it before getting back. The whole area was very interesting and memorable. The last part of the hike was a tough climb through sand to the wave. I found various interesting angles and look forward getting them ready for viewing.

Steve had invited me to their barbeque and what a great way to climax a visit to the wave. They had a couple who provided music singing, fiddling and playing the auto-harp. They sang some original compositions as well as southern Appalachian standards.

Then on Saturday, I drove back home and emptied the truck. Today, I took it over to the car wash. I have to do some batch processing of my images that takes about 7-8 hours to run each time. While running, it loads both processors on my computer so heavily that it is not possible to write a report such as this. So, I had to wait until there was a break to write this. Next, I will start another batch.

Warmest regards,


Hier ist noch eine weitere Geschichte die wieder einmal beweist, dass ein Flugzeugkonstrukteur niemals aufhört ein Flugzeugkonstrukteur zu sein.

Hi Ansgar,

I have done some calculations regarding the sun shadow. Based on the image that I captured, I corrected the time to UCT by adding 42 seconds. There is a NOAA sun angle calculator at:

The GPS coordinates of where I place my tripod for the photo are:

Lat = 36 59’ 15.4” North

Lon = 110 06’ 50.5” West

Alt = 5485 ft (1671.8 m)

Using the above location and calculator, the azimuth and elevation angles for the photo that I sent you are:

Az = 273.43

El = 1.7

I have an image taken moments later when the sun brightness was greatly reduced. The angles are:

Az = 273.6

El = 1.49

I wish I had more data points, but I conclude that the critical elevation is around 1.66. That means landscape features to the west obscure the sun when it gets below that elevation. There was some fading of the thumb shadow on the image I sent you, but I fixed it in Photoshop. That suggests to me that 1.75 elevation would be preferred, but 1.66 could probably produce a usable image with help from Photoshop. Also, the shadow is not centered, so it would be desirable to have a slightly greater azimuth than 273.43.

Using the NOAA calculator for September 10 – 12, I get:

Sept 10 18:22:00 az = 2745.48 el = 2.22

Sept 10 18:23;37 az = 274.73 el = 1.92

Sept 10 18:25:00 az = 274.93 el = 1.66

Sept 11 18:20:28 az = 274.0 el = 2.22

Sept 11 18:22:08 az = 274.25 el = 1.92

Sept 11 18:23:30 az = 274.46 el = 1.66

Sept 12 18:22:00 az = 273.98 el = 1.66

Based on the above, I believe that the 10th and 11th will be the best times. I plan to be there in September and gather more data points. Then, I will be able to determine more accurately the critical values. I will synchronize my camera clock each night with GPS (corrected to UCT).

Feel free to share with those with whom you are in contact my calculations. You may also post the photo on the web sites that you use. If you do post, do let me know so that I may view it. You might also want to translate mitten to Fausthandschuh for those who are not familiar with the English word. I have titled the image “Mitten Shadow”.

The Faire was a disappointment and I left after a couple of hours. Oh well.



2 Kommentare zu „Allan Vasenius“

  1. Pingback: Fotoschule Teil 8 – Reisefotografie auf Teneriffa | Ansgar's BLOG

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