Zion Portrait

I’m sitting on the deck of my motel room in Zion National Park. Thankfully, I was able to recover from my back spasm within 48 hours and so rebooked my flight and arrived two days late, just grateful to be here. After a day of photographing the gorgeous scenery, I fell ill to altitude sickness and dehydration, two maladies to which I have always been susceptible. Headache, vertigo, yuckiness. So my morning was spent in bed, trying to make believe that there is an alternative reality somewhere in space and time, one where I was happily traipsing through the fall leaves.

I recovered enough in late afternoon to venture out for some sunset images, but by time we got organized we had missed the opportunity. So we had dinner, reconnoitered and went for a nighttime shoot at Canyon Overlook. The moon is nearly full tonight, so we thought it would be a great place. The hike was invigorating, but downright dangerous in places. Most drop-offs were protected by rails, but not all. But the night was still and crisp and the moon cast an ethereal glow over the entire valley. Here is a short video clip of my photo buddy, Daniel Stainer, at one of the overlook bridges.

http://youtu.be/9QJuRYGYaig

Since I’ve not been to Zion National Park before, I was really looking forward to this visit. I’m using this visit to field test my new Hasselblad H4D-50. In fact, I left all my Nikon equipment at home so this was a cold turkey test. No alternate reality option available.

I also bought a new backpack for the trip, a LowePro Trekker 400 AW, as my Hassy equipment is bulkier than my Nikon gear. I’ll review the backpack and explain more about this Hassy test in a coming blog, where I’ll summarize what I see as strengths and weaknesses of the Hassy system for landscape and nature photographers. Very briefly, the files the Hassy system produces seem incredible to my eyes, but there are definite “issues” with using it in the field. Some of them are undoubtedly due to my stubbornness and to my intricate knowledge of Nikon products. It’s hard to teach an old dog new tricks.

For now, here are some impressions of Zion NP. Keep in mind that I am visiting after the high summer season, so I did not experience the legendary crowds and forced shuttle bus system that prevails in summer. Instead, every manner of photographic workshop seems to be in progress right now. Few of the iconic sites were free of photographers. That meant that Dan Stainer and I had to hike to locations where we would have fewer crowds, although according to the locals, “crowds” is a highly subjective word.

Zion NP is drop-dead gorgeous at this time of year. At the far northern end of the park, near Colob Canyon, the leaves have already changed, so we were presented with snow-flecked mountains amidst golden sunsets. Farther south, in Springdale, near the main entrance to the park, the yellows and reds of autumn are just now putting on their show.

I spent an afternoon hiking in the Checkerboard Mesa section of the park. Here is a short video of the area I was in. The rock formations here are wonderful to behold, eye candy wherever you look.

http://youtu.be/aO7PcIoN3IY

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

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