Zion is a place that can touch your heart and stir the imagination. Over the two months, and through 20 blog posts, 70 photos and 6 slideshows, it has been a joy to share with you the beauty and and nature of this national park. Although words and photos like these can help to understand a place, we rely on many other senses besides sight when visiting somewhere in-person. The sound of rushing water, smell of wild flowers or feeling of the ground beneath our feet all play a part in our experience, emotions and memories.
“And the world cannot be discovered by a journey of miles, no matter how long, but only by a spiritual journey, a journey of one inch, very arduous and humbling and joyful, by which we arrive with the ground at our feet, and learn to be at home.”
~ Wendell Berry, The Unforeseen Wilderness, 1971
For this final blog post on Zion I wanted to share more images about the park but to do so in a way that requires more than simply a sense of sight. Nothing, of course, can equal the actual experience of visiting a national park in person. My hope, however, is that this will demonstrate how two senses, in this case sound and sight, offers a completely different and often captivating experience than one based on sight alone.
During my time at Zion National Park, I captured over 100 black and white landscape photos using two film cameras, one made in 1907. From those I selected 12 along with the music of Blear Moon, a highly talented Czech Republic musician, to create a two-minute music video. To watch and listen now, simply click on the image below.
Zion National Park, Utah
(Click Below to Play the Video)
Thank you for following along on this adventure. The artist-in-residence program offered by organizations like the National Park Service serves an important role in helping share the beauty of our national lands with others. It’s my sincere hope you will discover some of that beauty in the photographs this assignment made possible for me to share with you. I also hope it will spark a new or renewed interest in visiting a national park for yourself to experience the beauty of these national treasures.
As always, I welcome your questions, stories, thoughts and suggestions about this series or anything posted in the blog. Click on the link below to post a comment or click here to send a message now. ~ Rick Braveheart
For decades I have hiked and photographed throughout ancient lands in America’s West and Southwest. Occasionally in those travels I encounter rock art which are images that have been drawn onto rock by ancient people. Whenever I see these, I stand in awe at their design, their symbolism, and in knowing they were crafted by hand and have survived for millennia. There are two categories of rock art; pictographs which are images painted onto rock and petroglyphs that are images carved or etched into rock.
Zion houses hundreds of known rock art examples and there there are undoubtedly many more yet to be found or which have eroded away. Understandably, and because of prior damage (vandalism, defacement, etc.) done to rock art by earlier park visitors, there are only a few rock art sites open to the public. The easiest example of rock art to view is one called Sacrifice Rock that is located only 300 feet (90 m) from the park’s south entrance. Sacrifice Rock is also an ancient summer solstice marker which, on June 21st the shadow of a distant rock falls upon it.
The most extensive example of easily accessible rock art is in Petroglyph Canyon located near the park’s east entrance. Reached by a moderate hike of roughly one-half mile (.8 km) into a small canyon, the site contains dozens of petroglyphs. They are all positioned near eye-level and can be viewed or photographed from a path only six feet (2 m) away. Each was carved through a layer of dark surface rock and then into a lighter color sandstone layer beneath.
The Petroglyphs of Zion National Park
(Click Below to Start the Slideshow)
From a collection of over one hundred rock art photos made at Zion, I have selected ten and placed them into a photo slideshow. Click on the image above to start the show. Once it begins, you can either click on a specific photo to view it in a larger size, or easily navigate from one photo to the next.
A NOTE ON ZION’S ROCK ART: There are two other areas of the park which contain significant examples of rock art. The first, Cave Valley, is located in the remote Kolob Terrace section of the park and it houses a large pictograph collection. The other area known as Parunuweap Canyon contains extensive examples of rock art. To protect Cave Valley from vandalism, there are no road signs or markers to indicate its location. Also, at the moment, Parunuweap Canyon is closed for research purposes and due to restricted access rights from surrounding land owners.
During the past four weeks at Zion National Park, I found myself surrounded by some of Nature’s most brilliant colors and dramatic weather conditions. Having been here during the transition from Winter into early Spring, I have been honored to witness this beautiful change in seasons. Warm days mixed with days of cold and rain, and the sudden appearance of Spring flowers, berries, tree buds and even animals emerging from their winter homes are all part of this great in seasons.
I’ve spent the past week reviewing, appreciating and organizing over 100 images of flowers, leaves, trees and bushes. I know they represent only a small portion of the great beauty that Nature offers visitors here. But at the same time, I know too that I have made the best effort possible to capture and share as much of her beauty as possible during my stay.
From that large collection of photos I have selected 12 and placed them into a slideshow. Click on the image above to start the show. Once it begins, you can either click on a specific photo to view it in a larger size, or easily navigate from one photo to the next.
Close-Up Photography Tip
Several of the plant and flower close-up photos in the slideshow above were made with the help of extension tubes. That photo accessories is described in a prior blog article titled Macro and Close-Up Photography.
Nighttime landscape photography, especially at a place like Zion National Park, can produce lovely, alluring and captivating photos. And, while it does have its challenges, it can also be exciting since you never exactly what the final photo will look like until afterward. Making a nighttime photo, by itself, is not necessarily difficult nor overly time-consuming. Including star trails in those photos, like the one described in the prior blog post however, takes a more time, planning and patience. Here is a little more about each method.
Photos made during the night have an intrigue and look that sets them apart from photos made in daylight. While the overall appearance of subjects in a night photo (their shape, size etc.) will look similar to the eye, it is a shift in normal colors and lack of crisp clarity throughout the image that helps set them apart. We are all use to viewing outdoor subjects that are normally illuminated by sunlight. With nighttime scenes however details in distant subjects are harder to discern and the colors/hues change based on the light source. For example, a subject illuminated by a candle will look different than one lit by a flashlight or bathed in moonlight.
I have created a photo slideshow containing three landscape images made during my month-long assignment at Zion. In the first two photos, the landscape was brightly bathed in a full moon. In the last photo, the moon was photographed as it moved behind a nearby mountain. Click on the image above to start the slideshow. Once it begins, you can either click on a specific photo to view it in a larger size, or easily navigate from one photo to the next.
Star Trail Photography
Want to make a star trail photo yourself? Night photos that reveal the movement of the stars can be made with most DSLR and film cameras as well as some compact (point and shoot) cameras. The camera you use must allow you to manually focus the lens, set the exposure time and aperture and also have a “Bulb” setting that allows for a long exposure. You will also need a tripod or another method to keep the camera motionless during the exposure and a way to activate the shutter without shaking the camera such as a shutter release cable or remote.
While an entire book could be written about the many techniques and camera settings possible, let me offer some initial suggestions if you would like to try creating one on your own. First, with your camera mounted on a tripod, find and point the lens toward the North Star. Not sure where the North Star is in the sky? The easiest way is to locate the Little Dipper and point the lens toward the star located at the end of its handle (the North Star).
Next, choose a low ISO or ASA speed of 100 or 200, turn off auto focus and manually focus your lens close to infinity. Then, select the manual exposure mode, set the aperture to F/8 and the exposure time to Bulb (normally shown as a “B” on most cameras). Finally, when ready to make the photo, use the shutter release cable or camera remote to activate the shutter. You will need at least a 3-10 minute exposure to see the beginnings of a star trail and 1-2 hours or more to see long circular patterns.
Coming Up Next: The Flowers & Plants
of Zion National Park
For many of us, the nighttime sky holds a mysterious, intriguing and delightful fascination. And for anyone who has gazed skyward into a dark star filled sky over a desert or remote local, the sight can be breathtaking. Because of its location far from the lights of major metropolitan areas, a cloudless nighttime sky over Zion National Park is near black in color. It is the perfect place for star gazing, watching for meteors, contemplating life on distant planets and, nighttime photography.
The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera. ~Dorthea Lange, Photojournalist, 1895-1965
Nighttime photos made with a strong subject, dark sky and much patience (plus lots of coffee) can look mysterious, intriguing and thought provoking. Likewise, daytime photos which are normally made quickly in 1/100 or 1/1000 of a second, for example, reveal only a moment in time. Nighttime photos made over many hours, on the other hand can convey a sense of time passing.
Angels Landing, Zion National Park
( 124-Minute Long Nighttime Exposure)
Angles Landing, the 1,488-foot (454 m) rock formation mentioned in an earlier post is one of the best known and prominent features at Zion. It was formed millions of years and long before humans walked the planet. With my cabin located just down the road, I often sat for hours admiring its form and majesty. I also considered fresh ways to photograph it that conveyed its beauty, presence and long life upon the Earth. My solution was the photograph above that required a 124 minute long exposure.
The circles in the photograph are “star trails” with each one outlining the path of a star or planet as the earth rotates on its axis. A nighttime photo of Angels Landing lit by light from the full moon and requiring only a 2-3 minute exposure to capture the rock formation could look lovely and interesting by itself. Using light from crescent-shaped moon (in this case, a Waxing Moon) and an exposure of over two hours however, also revealed the star trails which adds patterns, interest, intrigue and a sense of time passing to the image.
Coming Up Tomorrow: Night Photography Part 2