Sunday, March 20, 2016

The Virgin River

Watchman by Night
Photographing the Virgin River is one of the most common subjects in Zion National Park.  After all, it is the Virgin River which has carved the incredible Zion Canyon.  The river runs through the canyon and is scenic in its own right.

One of the most popular spots in the park is to stand on the bridge and photograph the Watchman and the Virgin River.

Many will instantly know what I mean when I say "the bridge", for those that do not there is a bridge at Canyon Junction across the Virgin River where dozens of people gather every night to stand on the bridge and photograph sunset light on a mountain called the Watchman.  

Now when you stand on the bridge cars are going across the bridge right behind you.  I mean right behind you.  As in don't wear a backpack, they are that close.  Now they are not going to fast (maybe 20 mph) but they are right there.

If you have never been to Zion, it is probably a shot you will want to do.  Just be prepared for a crowd.

I have done that image and knew I wanted something different from the area.  So I did a few things different.  I went out there at night.  The crowds are gone, the cars are rare, and the stars above the Watchman make for an interesting image.

Look at the top image here and you will notice, that is not daytime.....it's night.

Virgin River and Peaks
As I walked around the area I thought the view of the mountains in the other direction look interesting.  I walked the river right near the bridge and found a way I could frame them with the river.  Walking around where I was I might have been in a few peoples images when they were photographing off the bridge, so I worked quickly and then tried to be out of sight to be courteous.

Ok, I had a good composition.  Now I just had to wait for the right light.  It took me three days before that light happened but when I did I got what may be my favorite image from the trip. I was able to get the images in a just a few minutes.  My prefinding the right spot really paid off.

I really like the cluster of peaks here, the light and clouds in the sky and the river in the foreground.

Virgin River and Milky Way
On my last night in the park, I went back to the bridge and saw the Milky Way over the river on the other side of the bridge.  I could not work it into my composition with the peaks but I was able to just stand on the north side of the bridge and photograph it over the river.

So in just a 50 yard stretch of the river I was able to make several very different images.  It is why I keep exploring
 areas and like to move around and look at what might be possible.

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