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On a beautiful December morning I took a trip to Zion National Park. My goal was to photograph Zion Canyon from Canyon Overview, one of the best spots for photography in the park. I hiked the mile and a half distance in the dark, using a headlamp, arriving well before dawn. There had been a light snow fall overnight that was melting as soon as the sun shined on it. I shot the sunrise on the cliffs and took some great photographs, especially with the snow highlights. To top it off the moon was slowly setting in the west behind the cliffs of Zion. I spent about 2 hours doing the shoot, with very satisfactory results. I packed up my gear and headed down the trail, not realizing the best was still to come.
On my way back down the trail, not far from the overlook, I took this picture, by far the best of the set. The dead logs had just emerged from shadows and the snow was rapidly melting. I used the leading lines of the log/snow to point to the moon and the sandstone cliffs of Zion. Using the snow as a highlight, I was able to include the moon, the Towers of the Virgin in the distance, and with Bridge Mountain on the left.
The hike to Canyon Overview is one of the signature hikes for Zion National Park. The problem is parking is limited and an early arrival is required. The hike starts just after you exit the Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel and is short and easy. Canyon Overlook provides gorgeous vistas and great photos at both sunrise and sunset. Of note, Canyon Overlook is directly over the Great Arch, but the arch is not visible from the overlook. You can see the switchbacks from the valley floor up to the lower entrance of the tunnel that provide great after-sunset time-lapse photos of the lights on the cars while they are on the switchbacks against the cliffs of Zion.
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Dimitri Vasileiou • Editor