Zion Canyon National Park, Utah, USA by Dave Noordhoff

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Picture Story

My favourite place to travel is the US Southwest, and my favourite part of Zion Canyon National Park (one of the Southwest’s Crown Jewels) is the East Plateau, reached by taking Utah State Route 12 away from the famous main canyon.

On my first trip to Zion Canyon in September 2007, my wife and I drove to the east gate before dawn one beautiful morning, and then slowly made our way back to the west, stopping along the way many times to explore the plateau. Back then, this part of Zion was almost empty that early in the day, so we had the road to ourselves. Often the skies in the southwest are a superb blue but clear … that morning I was lucky to have some wispy clouds. It was cool, a comfortable early autumn morning, with almost no breeze. Perfect!!

While exploring north of the highway I spotted this tree. Although appearing healthy, the trunk was marked (I thought scarred) and I imagined it was a survivor of something traumatic in the distant past. Fortunately the direction of the light permitted the best composition to also be the best lit. I managed to find a safe foothold on the slickrock slope and set up my tripod and gear.

Back in those days I used a simple cropped sensor DSLR and what I would now consider a lens no better than adequate, but the combination certainly did the job; I have since revisited the location on two subsequent trips and never been able to improve on the images I captured that day.

I set the ISO as low as possible and the aperture at what I had read was the “sweet spot”. I shot three different exposures, one stop apart. Twelve years later I reprocessed two of them with modern software and the image is the result of blending the exposures.

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