Zion Canyon National Park, Utah, USA by Dave Noordhoff

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One guidebook to this area of Utah describes this tree as perhaps the most famous in Zion National Park, so when I first visited the park back in 2007, I actively sought it out. There must have already been thousands of images of it, but none of them were mine!

We were driving west, into Zion, early in the morning. The weather was perfect. In those days, the park was far less crowded than it is today, so it was easy to find a pullout to park when we spotted the tree. It is located along Utah Highway 9, east of the entrance to the famous Zion tunnel. It is well above the road.

I quickly decided I wasn’t going to be able to climb up the slope (at least 50 metres up), and, in any case, the light was beautiful from near the roadside. All too often, the sky in the US Southwest is absolutely cloudless, but this morning I was lucky and some thin cloud made the sky more interesting. It was comfortably warm, and about two hours or so after sunrise.

I used a Canon EOS Rebel XTi, and a telephoto zoom (a Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6). A setting of 220mm seemed right. I went with an exposure of 1/350, f/8 and ISO 100. To be sure, I shot images one stop over and under, and the image at the brighter setting proved to be best.

Twelve years later I reprocessed the image using the newest software, and maybe a bit more experience!
I love the colour contrast of the sky, rock and tree and how the lines in the rock slope lead your eye up, just like it works when you are on the roadside gazing up.

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