River of Light, Virgin River in the Narrows, Zion National Park, Utah 2011

Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III__EF16-35mm f/2.8L II USM___ISO 100

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.

Reflections, Paria River, Paria Canyon/Vermillion Cliffs Wilderness Area, Utah 1985

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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Published by William Neill

William Neill, a resident of the Yosemite National Park area since 1977, is a landscape photographer concerned with conveying the deep, spiritual beauty he sees and feels in Nature. Neill's award-winning photography has been widely published in books, magazines, calendars, posters, and his limited-edition prints have been collected and exhibited in museums and galleries nationally, including the Museum of Fine Art Boston, Santa Barbara Museum of Art, The Vernon Collection, and The Polaroid Collection. Neill received a BA degree in Environmental Conservation at the University of Colorado. In 1995, Neill received the Sierra Club's Ansel Adams Award for conservation photography. Neill's assignment and published credits include National Geographic, Smithsonian, Natural History, National Wildlife, Conde Nast Traveler, Gentlemen's Quarterly, Travel and Leisure, Wilderness, Sunset, Sierra and Outside magazines. Also, he writes a monthly column, On Landscape, for Outdoor Photographer magazine. Feature articles about his work have appeared in Life, Camera and Darkroom, Outdoor Photographer and Communication Arts, from whom he has also received five Awards of Excellence. His corporate clients have included Sony Japan, Bayer Corporation, Canon USA, Nike, Nikon, The Nature Company, Hewlett Packard, 3M, Freidrick Grohe, Neutrogena, Sony Music/Classical, University of Cincinnati, UBS Global Asset Management. His work was chosen to illustrate two special edition books published by The Nature Company, Rachel Carson's The Sense of Wonder and John Fowles's The Tree. His photographs were also published in a three book series on the art and science of natural process in collaboration with the Exploratorium Museum of San Francisco: By Nature's Design (Exploratorium / Chronicle Books, 1993), The Color of Nature (Exploratorium / Chronicle Books, 1996) and Traces of Time (Chronicle Books / Exploratorium, Fall 2000). A portfolio of his Yosemite photographs has been published entitled Yosemite: The Promise of Wildness (Yosemite Association, 1994) which received The Director's Award from the National Park Service. A retrospective monograph of his landscape photography entitled Landscapes Of The Spirit (Bulfinch Press/Little, Brown, 1997) relates his beliefs in the healing power of nature. William has taught photography since 1980 for such prestigious organizations as The Ansel Adams Gallery, the Friends of Photography, Palm Beach Photographic Workshops, The Maine Workshops and Anderson Ranch Workshops. He specializes in landscape and nature photography and is concerned with conveying the beauty seen in Nature. Currently, he teaches online courses for BetterPhoto.com and One-on-One Workshops in his home studio near Yosemite National Park.