Moonlight Serenade, Taylor Creek

Zion National Park, Utah, 1997 View Full Zion Portfolio »

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Field Notes (from 1997)

This image was made during a fall workshop in Zion National Park. We had hiked one of the “finger” canyons of the Kolob area in the remote northern section of the Park. If you have never visited this section of the park you’ve missed a tremendous opportunity for privacy and solitude.

As we hiked out of the canyon the crescent moon revealed itself over the ridge of one of the towering canyon walls. Several of the participants stopped to make an image of the moon nestled between the arched branches of some old cottonwood trees. The image didn’t fit my mood so I sat down to simply soak in the last few minutes before darkness.

The moon was descending quickly with the sun and was nearing the crest line of the canyon ridge. I noticed there was also a thin veil of clouds gaining a purplish hue creating a soft velvet texture to the sky. Looking more closely at the rock and tree formations on the ridge I felt the rising excitement of an image forming in my mind. I composed several times settling on the final composition that balanced the highest rock against the position of the moon.

I had little time to gauge exposure so bracketed around the exposure my camera suggested. I was very pleased with the results especially the soft ring of light created by the moonlight and the thin layer of clouds.

About the Zion National Park Portfolio

Over the arc of my adult life and my near 25-year immersion into photography, no place has had greater influence or offered essential sanctuary than Zion National Park. Trying to succinctly describe this influence feels nearly impossible. The love I have for this extraordinary place is akin to the love of a child or partner; you would do anything, including die, if necessary, to ensure your love's life over yours.

Photography seemed the natural vehicle to express my profound awe and wonderment in attempting to convey my initial Zion experiences. And those initial photographs focused on the iconic experiences a new visitor often enjoys: Angel's Landing, The Narrows, Emerald Pools. But, with successive visits (pretty much whenever I could), my focus began a gradual yet persistent evolution towards more specific and subtle subject matter. Photographs that initially merely recorded or looked at the larger, grander landscape began to look into, to ascertain and comprehend the essential details that comprised the whole. And those details, whether water, tree, or stone are so varied and provide me with such joy, I know I could spend lifetimes exploring them and not exhaust their power.

While I do not live here year round, Zion has taught me the profundity of place and the power it has to shape you, offering essential life lessons only a commitment to intimate connection can provide. To this day, I find my struggles in life can be given perspective and insight by a simple sojourn into the park where I walk at once sheltered and exposed, listening to the musings of an old friend, humbled by her display of the lovely, brutal, essential intricacies of life.

Moonlight Serenade, Zion National Park

Moonlight Serenade, Taylor Creek

Zion National Park, Utah, 1997

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