Tree-Covered Cliffs, Lady Mountain, Zion National Park

Tree-Covered Cliffs, Lady Mountain, Zion National Park

On my first visit to Zion National Park, in 2008, we made the hike along the Emerald Pools trail and came away photoghraphically disappointed, without anything to share. As I looked back at my photos from that trip during the planning stage of my 2011 return to Zion I took note of a snapshot I had made. I wasn't exactly sure where I had taken it, but it was somewhere along the Emerald Pools trail. Clearly something had caught my eye back then to get me to take a quick shot, but it was hastily composed and not, in itself, worth posting.

While back in Zion earlier this month we returned to the Emerald Pools trail to try out luck again. Sure enough while hiking between the middle and upper pools the same scene caught my eye that had done so in 2008. Fortunately, I feel we had more flattering light this time, I had my large format camera with me, and most importantly the patience to slow down and take the photo I really wanted. What I liked about this scene was that in the mid-morning light, the green trees perched on every surface were still mostly back-lit and the colors really glowed. Set against the deep red sandstone wall of Lady Mountain, the contrast is striking.

For the most part my large format photography on this trip was successful, at least technically. There are numerous ways to mess up a large format photograph, but with time I have improved. Of all the large format shots taken on this trip, however, this one has been like a lightening rod for problems. I made two exposures, the color one seen here and a black and white version as well. Among all the black and white negatives I developed, I someone managed to leave only this negative soaking in a water bath and it didn't get developed - an error I didn't notice until I tuned on the lights (thus ruining the negative). Once I got my color film returned from the lab, this was the only photograph compromised by a substantial light flare across the top of the film (the source of which I am still trying to understand). The resultant image here is actually a crop of what I had initially framed, altered to avoid that flare. Fortunately the cropped version maintained the character of the full frame photograph.

Finally, a quick note on scanning. It may sound trivial to scan a color slide to share it digitally, but it really is not. The more I scan, the more I appreciate that it is and artform in itself. Viewing this slide on a lighttable is a completely different experience - the color and detail seems indescribable. In some cases I will have a slide professionally drum scanned, which is an improvement, but in most cases I do the scanning myself. I do my best to bring out the qualities that I love in the actual slide, but it is always a challenge.

Tachihara 4x5 | Caltar 210mm f/6.1 | f/25 | 1/2s | Fuji Provia 100F | Tripod

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

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