Lacy Rocks of the Wave

Lacy Rocky Spire of Coyote Buttes North
The "wave" is world-famous, one of the most in all landscape photography.  Pictures like the one below have made it an icon.  However, one wants to explore and discover.  That's part of our nature and certainly is a goal when I set out to photograph a location.  I want to find some place new, an undiscovered gem. Classic Wave shot

Well, this time I hiked to Coyote Buttes North (the Wave) and did so in snow.  The beginning temperature was 17 degrees Fahrenheit.  The sun did come out and warm me up.  I can't complain too much.  Snow made everything different, making it a little more challenging to find any classic Southwest picture.

I had heard of a cliff that had lacy rocks on the very top. However, the climb up to the top was on the north side of this mountain and covered with snow. Climbing up snow-covered slickrock is an exercise in persistence, gravity, friction and sliding down.  It took quite a while to make it up to the top.  These delicate lacy rocks covered the entire top of this mountain. I was in awe at how fragile these appear. There is nothing to protect them from the environment or from people. I made it a point to not touch a single one.  I did enjoy photographing them.

In this shot, the snow coming in from the right side gave the subject a sense of place. Although I was shooting directly into the sunshine, I took several bracketed exposures and manually blended them to achieve this picture. The lacy spire extends up to the blue sky, braving the elements.  I can only wonder how long these delicate rocks can survive.

Golden Montana Sunlight

Normally a photographer must account for the sun's position when composing a photograph.A basic rule or guideline says to keep the sun from directly shining into or across the lens. That is why lens hoods were invented in the first place:  they keep the sunlight from hitting the lens. Another rule, the most famous one, is the rule of thirds.  That states that the main subject of the photograph should be about one-third  and from the top and one-third in from the side of the photograph.

I normally try to follow these rules but not on this occasion.

On this afternoon  the position of the valley and the summer sun were such that I had to shoot with the sun in the upper corner of the lens to capture the golden moment.  The light is literally captured in spots of gold coming across the photograph in a diagonal from the upper left to the lower right.  Is that a flaw?  Some would say "yes" but breaking the rules works for me here because the light just electrifies the summer grass and purple lupine flowers.  I call this photograph "Land of Love".

Double Falls, Zion National Park

At the end of September I began a hike that I had planned on doing for several years: hiking up the right fork of North Creek in Zion National Park. This fork is adjacent to the more famous left fork, a.k.a. The Subway. The right fork is scenic in its own way but you work for your reward: 6 miles one-way hiking to reach the destination of Double Falls. This beautiful waterfall is part of a series of cascades coming off of slickrock. This is a perennial waterfall. While I was hiking in, I discovered a coyote following me, I came face-to-face with a raccoon and I discovered a very recent landslide which had created a very large pond where the trail had been. I decided to hike up the landslide and then descend back onto the trail farther along. This took a long time. On my way back, I chose to wade neck-deep to pass this obstacle.

Double Falls is beautiful, private, clean and perfect.  The main waterfall splits into two separate falls just above a lovely pool.  I spent 2 to 3 hours sitting around it, swimming, photographing. The pool is cool and clear but does have a good amount of moss.  That did not bother me a bit.  Quite refreshing actually.

For more Zion National Park photos, please visit my photo gallery.