Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Who's Watching the Watchman

Last Light on the Watchman

If you have ever been to Zion National Park, you know what the Watchman is. It is the huge monolith rock formation that dominates the Zion village and Springdale township.  Perhaps it got its name because is seems to be watching over the whole valley. Perhaps its because the rock face lights up in a curious orange glow during sunset. Or perhaps its being watched by every photographer that has ever laid eyes upon it, waiting for sunset.  However it got its name, its still one of the great icons of Zion NP.  I spent a week there last fall and tried to shoot it in all its moods. I set my tripod in the holes of many other photographers, like the first image here. It was taken from the bridge that crosses the Virgin River.

Watchman sunburst

Every night just before sunset, the narrow sidewalk along the bridge fills up with photographers from every walk of life and country imaginable. Tripod legs intertwined like newborn baby spiders. All different languages are spoken, and once the rock face begins to illuminate, oohs and awes are universally expressed with excitement. The first couple of evenings I wasn't too happy with the shots, as there was either no clouds or too much cloud cover, so the light show was spotty.  Finally on the third attempt I was lucky enough to get both cloud and light.  Having camped in the campground in our trusty VW campmobile with our bikes on the rack made it easy as pie to take the dog for a run up the path to witness the show of all shows. I did attempt to make some original compositions. I even tried some early morning shots. I explored and set my tripod in unconventional places to get something somewhat original. For example a mid morning shot back lit through the autumn leaves.  A night shot with stars.  Try as I might I still couldn't top the light and composition of the standard iconic shot from the bridge.  Who was watching the Watchman?  Well I was.