Sunrise on Court of the Patriarchs and the Virgin River

zion canyon sunrise court of the patriarchs birch creek canyon virgin river springdale utah photofool

According to a Zion’s park ranger, the best location to view sunrise in the park is right behind the museum, but I prefer this view. From the other side of the road at the Court of the Patriarchs bus stop, walk along the river (or follow the service road) to reach the bridge. This area is to the left of the bridge.

I wanted to “underexpose” the sky just a touch to keep its deep blues and to retain the rich golden colors on the rocks. I also needed to maintain a slow enough exposure to slow down the water flow. So, I stacked both of my hard-edge GND filters. The sky is darker comparing to the foreground, but I like the end result.

_mg_8498_800.jpgThe thumbnail on the left shows a more “conventional” view of these rock formations known as “Court of the Patriarchs” – from left to right: Abraham, Isaac and Jacob peaks. When I left this area, I saw many shooters setup tripods on the side of the road. IMO, a short walk into the “woods” provides a better view.

I read comments about how Zion is such a difficult place to photograph because light doesn’t reach the valley floor until late morning. While this is true, I found that sunrise is the best time to see the park. The west side of the canyon gets lit up nicely in the early morning light.