Southwest 2015 – Lazy Sunday at the Virgin River

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Sunday, December 13th, 2015

Julia and I woke up super late today. We were very sore from all the resistance hiking through The Narrows yesterday so today was definitely going to be a lazy Sunday for us. Our knees were aching, but our attitudes remained positive as we slowly made our way out of the hotel and on to another small venture for the day. We didn’t want anything too crazy, so we settled on a casual walk along the Virgin River just south of the main entrance to the park. It was practically lunch, so we grabbed a quick bite at Cafe Soleil since it would be our last opportunity to do so. After that, it was time to hit the Virgin River trail.

“Bridge Mountain sits along the Virgin River and is host to the Crawford Arch, a natural rock arch structure.”

Zion National Park

GPS Coordinates: 37.3222826° N, 113.1833173° W

With the shorter days of winter, we had only a few hours to get our shots in along the Virgin River. The Watchman mountain made a wonderful background subject for our images, so we started our hike from the north to the south which kept The Watchman in the shot. We wanted to stay here until sunset as this area tends to become a magical place to shoot when that time of day approaches. The Virgin River trail travels along the riverside and crosses over it a various points along the path through a series of really neat bridges. Every place we stopped at made a great shot so we had lots of decisions to make before sundown.

“We crossed over a few of these neat bridges until we found the spot we wanted to shoot.”

“The rusty bridge bolts were pretty big, my gloved index finger for scale.”

Long Exposure Day Time Shot

I wanted to capture this scene with my Canon 17-40mm f/4.0L wide angle lens, but I needed a long exposure. I set my camera bag down and grabbed my Lee filter holder with the 77mm adapter. The filter I needed to capture this image was my Lee “Big Stopper” which packs a whopping 10 stops of underexposure. I set my aperture to f/9.0 and placed my shutter speed at 30 seconds. My ISO was 400 and I fired away. Even though my white balance was set to 5200ºK, the filter made it look very blue. I had to raise the temperature to 10,000ºK in post to get the warmer tones I was looking for. (Note to self: set white balance to 8,000ºK next time I use the Big Stopper)

“Ready for some serious exposure shots.”

“The result of the 10 stop filter made some very satisfying results!”

Julia and I decided to avoid the trail and start exploring along the riverside for some shots that were hidden from us. She took one side of the river and I took the other. We hiked for quite a distance and even saw some animal prints in the wet sand by the river. Eventually we found the places that we wanted to shoot from. I stayed behind and Julia went further up the river so we wouldn’t get in each others shots. The photo opportunities here were very abundant.

“We hiked along the riverside for a while to find other places to shoot the scenery.”

“I found these Mule Deer hoof prints in the sand along the river.”

“Last shot of the Virgin River and the Watchman for the day.”

“The sun was leaving us fast this day with the onset of an approaching storm.”

Overall, this day was one of the laziest for photography. I guess shooting photos for the last 12 days was starting to wear on us, but I honestly think that we just needed something fresh to work with. Tonight will be our last night in town and then tomorrow we are off to Vegas, bringing this gigantic Southwest photo venture to a close. We had hoped that it would snow as the weather report kept teasing over the last couple of days, but all we got was rain here and there. Perhaps tomorrow will be the day we’ve been waiting for, but if not, we will just load up the Starship and head out.

-Until the next travel blog, remember to get out there and “Shoot the Planet!”



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