Sunrise at the Court of the Patriarchs in Zion National Park Utah

In the fall of 2012 I spent over a week photographing at Zion National Park in Utah during the fall foliage season. I was there to scout shooting locations for my 2013 Fall Foliage in Zion National Park Photography Workshop and I photographed this scene at the Court of the Patriarchs at sunrise.

Normally I am not a fan of crystal clear blue skies but actually prefer it in this image. I love the way the blue sky contrasts against the bright orange rocks. It does a perfect job of sharing with you the feeling I had during that crisp, cold morning with temps below freezing and the warmth that suddenly came from those peaks basking in sunlight.

I arrived at this location well before the sunlight began to reach the peaks – in fact it was pitch dark outside when we left the campground and got to the location. With toes and fingertips stinging from the cold I waited – and waited – for the light to slowly and eventually reach the third rock formation on the right. It was then that I started taking numerous photos at different exposures so I could create this final image.

Because the tonal range of this scene was so large with the bright lighting on the peaks and the cool dark shadows of the foreground, I needed 3 different exposures to photograph this scene properly. I used Nik’s HDR Efex Pro 2 for the HDR processing and onOne’s Perfect Photo Suite 7.5 was used for the majority of the image enhancement.

The scene was photographed with my Canon 5DII and 17-40mm f4 Canon lens. A slow shutter speed was used to blur the running water of the North Fork Virgin River.

I will have a blog post up within a week showing a before and after and explain a little bit more how I enhanced this image in my digital darkroom, so stay tuned.

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