Large Format Landscape Photography in Zion National Park: Day 3

On Day 3 of my 2016 trip to Zion National Park, I started out like so many other days in Zion…watching sunrise at the Towers of the Virgin. This is a very popular spot, and there are often many photographers there to capture the beautiful light. I don’t mind though. There is just something about watching the sun work its way down those massive sandstone peaks. It gets me excited about spending a day in the park!

This is a shot that I’ve taken in the past, but I wanted something a little different. Previously, I’ve taken the shot with the Towers in full sun. This time around, I wanted to take the shot a bit earlier when the light was a little more blue and subdued. I used a 2-stop hard edge grad ND filter to control the light and fired off a one second exposure on Velvia 50. I did not get to take my usual second shot, because clouds came in and killed off all light after my first exposure. I was nervous not having a backup, but thankfully the shot turned out really well.

From there, my parents and I grabbed some souvenirs and headed up to the Northwest corner of the park. This section is much less crowded but has spectacular scenery in its own right. We decided to make the 6 mile hike up the Middle Fork of Taylor Creek that ends at the Double Arch Alcove. On our way in, I took a shot of some pines against a reflected light wall. There was some interesting layering in effect, but the light wasn’t the strongest. I will say though, despite my initial misgivings about the shot, I am happy with how it turned out.

Finally, after 3 miles in, we reached the Double Arch Alcove. This alcove has, in my opinion, the most spectacular example of reflected light in the entire park. The orange colors simply must be seen to be believed! I had a difficult time composing though. For starters, I don’t quite have a wide enough lens to get the entire sandstone wall. It is massive! At the base of the wall is a mixture of maples and cottonwoods that were surprisingly still holding onto their leaves. I decided to take a shot incorporating this color and only a small portion of the wall. And the colors on Velvia are NUCLEAR!!! However, this is pretty close to reality as hard as that may be to believe. Like I said, the light in this area is really spectacular.

We finished up our day much as it started…watching sunlight traverse sandstone pillars. Just your typical magical day in Zion. Why haven’t I moved there yet???

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