Yucca and Zion Canyon, Zion National Park

Yucca and Zion Canyon, Zion National Park

This was the very last photo of my recent trip to Zion National Park (I've skipped everything in the middle, but I will be going back). After 4 busy days in the park, we woke up to heavy rain and heavy cloud on the last morning. We had several hours left before we needed to head back to Las Vegas to fly home, and spent much of that morning looking at others' photographs in galleries, drinking coffee, and that sort of thing. But by about 11AM the rain was letting up enough to make photography feasible again, and we shot quite a lot over the next hour or two

Just down the street from where we were staying in Springdale, Utah we noticed a hill with a dirt trail running up the side. With the promise of evelvated views, we found its origin in a small park and allowed ourselves about 30 minutes to investigate. While friends John and Suad went one direction I went another and found what I thought was a great view point, looking back in Zion Canyon from just outside the park boundaries. I had spent the evening before trying (unsuccessfully) to find some strong foreground element to anchor what I was shooting, so I was pleased to find a couple of great Yucca plants growing next to a piece of bright orange sand stone here. In the distance you see the peaks of Zion, partially lost in the cloud and rain above. Looking back into Zion, this felt like a great last perspective on my way out of the park.

One of the benefits of photographing with a large format view camera is the array of camera movements you can utilize to bring complicated scenes into focus. Despite that advantage, I admit to often struggling to bring all of the movements together successfully. However, after a couple quick adjustments I was very pleased to see the rocks a few feet from my camera, the distant peaks, and everything in between come into quick focus. We didn't have much time to shoot at this point, so it was helpful that I managed to get this shot set up very quickly for a change.

My color film is still in the process of being developed and shipped back to me, but I have processed my black and white film at home already. I prepared this photograph from a contact print, which I then scanned. I inadvertently scanned my penultimate version of the contact print, while the final print had some additional burning in the sky to darken and emphasize the clouds. I compensated for that error by mimicking that result with a cruves adjustment in photoshop, but otherwise this is essentially what I managed to produce in the darkroom. I have a lot to learn about darkroom processes, but even still, producing a simple contact print at home is immensely satisfying.

Be sure to check out the contributions from my fellow travelers, friends John and Suad, or look in our group photo pool.

Tachihara 4x5 | Schneider S.A. 90mm f/8 | f/32 | 1/15s | Ilford FP4+ | Tripod | HC110(b), Dektol

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