The Kolob Canyons in the northwest corner of Zion National Park may just be my favorite part of the park. Before this trip in May I had only passed through Zion Canyon (its main attraction) and on the road through Eastern Zion. After a sunrise shoot we made the drive north towards Kolob Canyons, early enough to arrive when the sun was still low. Once we entered this corner of the we decided to drive to the end of the short 5-mile road just to get the lay of the land. Along the way we got a glimpse up this particular canyon and I was immediately drawn to photograph it. I'm not sure friends John and Suad were as enthused, but after reaching the end of the road we did return to photograph it.
We returned With the sun still low in the sky, which allowed all the trees to be photographed in beautiful backlight. The green leaves of the cottonwood trees were emerging nicely, but not yet so heavy that all the tree trunks and branches disappeared into a heavy green canopy. Deep towards the terminus of the canyon, about a mile or more, the dry hazy air glowed brightly adding a great sense of depth. The canyon walls here really tower above to the left and right, but appears lower towards the center of the frame. I opted to frame the scene to include as much of the distant canyon as I could without exposing the much brighter sky above it. This exposure was taken directly into the sun which always creates the potential for problems with lens flare or just metering properly, but I was pleased to see this come out as I had envisioned it.
All in all, this is one of my favorite photographs from this trip and I cannot wait to begin working on the finished print where it can truly come to life.
As an aside, while we were photographing at this spot we experienced a relatively common phenomenon. Being three people with tripods and some attention-getting camera gear, we had someone stop where we were to see what we were photographing (we must at least appear to know what we're doing). As this man walked up to as he asked "what are you shooting?" With three cameras all pointed roughly the same direction into what I thought to be an obviously magnificent scene I thought the answer was obvious, but we did attempt to clarify. "Well, it's too bad the light is so bad" was all he really had to say. He seemed disappointed that he bothered stopping to see what we were photographing, when it was not up to his standard or expectations. On some level I really wanted this photograph to turn out just for some personal vindication.
Lastly, while we were photographing this scene we noted a rough trail down below. On a whim, we decided to just go check it out 'briefly'. What followed was an unexpectedly great hike down an unofficial trail into what was, for me, the most beautiful part of Zion I have ever seen. The day's plans took a backseat to our impromtu hike up this canyon instead, reinforcing the value of keeping your agenda flexible.
Tachihara 4x5 | Caltar 210 f/6.1 | f/27 | 1/4s | Fuji Velvia 50 | Tripod
View more related images in my Zion National Park Gallery.
All text and images © Tyler Westcott, All rights reserved, Unless otherwise noted.