November 1, 2015
(Keep reading to the end for lots of pics)
For many photographers, The Narrows of Zion Canyon are a bucket list locale. Beautiful slot canyons that glow if you catch them at the right time, moving water and small rapids everywhere, just enough greenery to keep it interesting, and the challenge and thrill of hiking through moving water all day with $$$ of camera equipment. Not to mention setting up said equipment in the moving water itself.
This was a trip that I had expected to do with a company that does workshops such as my favorite, Aperture Academy. However, I know I would be in Vegas for SEMA, so I took a couple PTO days decided to try it on my own. There is also the added complication that guide companies are no longer allowed into the Wall Street section (you’ll see). Thus, last night I made my way to the Zion Adventure Company and rented dry pants, special boots made by 5-10 that ensure great traction, and an extra dry bag to protect my gear.
Morning three found me up once again before dawn, and at the Spotted Dog Café when they opened their doors to fill up on a big breakfast. I then packed up all my gear and my lunch, and enjoyed the views from the park bus windows as we made our way to the back of the canyon and the Temple of Sinawava stop. Here, the trail into The Narrows begins as an accessible paved trail for its first mile. When the pavement ends, the trail becomes the river. The next 3+ miles would take about 5 hours to complete (and 3 hours to return), partially because of its rigor, but moreso because of all of the opportunities to stop and make pictures. The trail is literally in the river through the canyon. There are some spots where it is on land, but much of the day is spent in moving water that varies between ankle and knee deep, with a couple deeper spots (keeping in mind I am 6’1″). The wood hiking stick that came with the rental saved me on many occasions.
This is one of the rare times that I did basically no research before the hike, so I had no clue where to be at what time to catch the best light. I found myself stopping often, each time I was awed, but as I noticed groups of photographers powering past, I decided I better keep up in hopes that they know more than I did. And so, that was my primary strategy for the trip up-river. I knew there was a “Wall Street” section, and to be honest I was not certain I had made it that far until I returned and compared my hike with maps and pictures. It was probably obvious, but I wanted to be sure. I did make it to and thru Wall Street before turning back so I would not miss the last bus 9 hours after I began my hike. I will admit that on my hike back, my decision making waned as fatigue set in. My gear had a couple close calls, but neither I nor it took a bath this day.
I was happy to find the glow several times, though I did give up on my follow the photographers strategy about half-way up, as that just put me in a position where I had to wait to get shots that I did not discover on my own. I figured I might as well trust my instincts and see how it goes. While I don’t know that I left with any shots that scream “put me on the wall” (maybe a few), I did take about 500 pictures and of course have many good ones.
I ranked my favorites into three tiers below. Feel free to let me know which ones you like best, or ones that you think I should have rated higher or lower. Serious photography critiques also welcome as I want to learn more and get better. Note though that pics with 5S in the name were taken with my phone, mostly with the case on. These were taken more as document my trip pictures, but the Samsung 5S took some great shots. The rest were with my Nikon D7000.
Here are my favorites (click to see them bigger):
Here are the next level:
And the third tier, along with trail pictures: