The Watchman and the Virgin River, Morning. Zion National Park, Utah. April 4, 2012. © Copyright 2012 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.
The virgin River curves towards the Watchman in early morning light, Zion National Park, Utah.
The peak in the upper portion of this photograph, The Watchman, with the curve of the Virgin River in the foreground is, as I understand it, one of the iconic photographic subjects of Zion National Park – perhaps being roughly equivalent to a photograph of Yosemite’s Half Dome from the Sentinel Bridge in The Valley. The funny thing, though, is that while I had seen this view of this subject many times in the photographs of others, I actually had no idea where it was or that I would see it when I visited Zion National Park earlier this month. I had somewhat intentionally avoided doing any real research about the places I would photograph, preferring instead to just confront them for what they are, unaffected as much as possible by previous notions about what I “should” photograph.
So, as we rode the shuttle bus into the park from the town of Springdale in the afternoon and crossed a bridge over the Virgin River before heading up into the canyon, I looked to my right and thought, “Oh, it is that view!” I have heard the stories and have seen the pictures of hordes of photographers lined up on this bridge, specifically to shoot this scene with fall colors and at sunset. (You can see a couple of examples by photographer and friend Gary Crabbe here.) I generally don’t seek out the icons, though I most certainly will photograph them if a) I haven’t photographed them before and/or b) there is something unusual or different about the conditions when I’m there. Although I did not stop and get off the bus to photograph the scene on that first evening, in the back of my mind I considered stopping if it looked interesting the next morning. And, in fact, as we took the shuttle back into the park very early the next morning – starting before sunrise, actually – it seemed like it might be worth hopping off after the bridge and taking a look. I was more encourage when we got there, both by the interesting soft dawn light and the lack of any other photographers on the bridge. So, there you go – I now have a photograph of the Watchman and the Virgin River, too! :-)
G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer whose subjects include the Pacific coast, redwood forests, central California oak/grasslands, the Sierra Nevada, California deserts, urban landscapes, night photography, and more.
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Text, photographs, and other media are © Copyright G Dan Mitchell (or others when indicated) and are not in the public domain and may not be used on websites, blogs, or in other media without advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.