During my recent trip to Zion, I met up with my friend and former assistant John O’Connor to take a hike up the Narrows of the Virgin River. We were so caught up with making images of all the wonderful reflections and other canyon details, we didn’t get very far, not even to the Orderville Canyon fork. Oh well, next time! Just when we decided to head back down river, I stopped dead in my tracks, in the middle of the river, when I saw these wonderful rapids and reflections. This image was created with Nik HDR Efex Pro, using five exposures that were each one stop apart.
This river hike reminds of many years ago when I hiked down the Paria River, not photographing much walking downstream. When turning the opposite direction, I started seeing photographs everywhere! By the time, I came out of the canyon, it was pitch dark. It took me about half an hour to find the trailhead parking area. The image below, made with my 4×5 camera in 1985, became one of my first posters published in the late 1980s, and one of my best-selling fine art prints sold throughout the country by The Nature Company.
Both photographs were made while standing in the cold rapids. I used a longer exposure in the 1985 image, and so the reflections are smoothed over like a watercolor wash. I cropped out the sunlit cliffs above each frame to avoid the extreme contrast and simplify the composition. The results in both photos focus the viewer on the colors and textures in the river’s water.
I have many more new images to polish up in post-processing, so stay tuned for more from my southwest trip. Next up, slot canyons!
Enjoy, William Neill
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