Martian Landscapes: The High Sandstone Peaks of East Zion

Water from the building storm will cut even deeper wounds through this martian landscape

Water from the building storm will cut even deeper wounds through this martian landscape
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Behind The Lens

If you’ve ever dreamt of going to Mars (like Elon Musk) perhaps I’d say that your dreams could come true if you make your way to the south west corner of Utah. This small but well known national park two hours outside of Las Vegas will twist your senses and give you an experience of what the red planet may actually be like. Zion national park and it’s incredibly beautiful 2000+ ft sand stone cliffs will leave any photographer willing to hike upward drooling.
The best time of day for any photographer is typically morning or evening right? Even though the edges of the day brings beautiful soft light, I’ve found that in Zion the harsh mid day light creates exceptional contrast and ignites the red, yellow, and brown walls with glowing warm light.
Wait for a time that the sun lights the canyon and place your subject in the light that’s being reflected rather than directly in the source. Often times when photographing people in canyons during dusk or dawn the light is just a little too flat and the scene just a little too dark. Experiment with the harsh desert light instead of avoiding it.
Canon 5D mark iii and a 17-40 f/4 lens. Handheld shot.
My favorite part about this landscape is the texture. You see it in the layering of the rock very clearly and you can see the grittiness of the stone almost as well. The leading lines that take you from the bottom of the photo and straight up the canyon is what inspired me to take this photo. It’s looks the way I envision Mars to be like.
I often live in the world of color as most of us do. The vibrancy is these canyons are stunning but my post processing was limited this time to dropping the highlights to expose the lingering clouds and upping the contrast to bring out the dark lines that add some punch to the photo.
In my camera bag
I don’t like carrying a lot of equipment - usually no more than two lenses and often I opt to carry lighter lenses without image stabilization. When I head out in the morning or evening for landscape photography I’ll always being along the tripod (as everyone should!).
Bring out the wide angle to play, get low, and look for leading lines that directs the audiences attention to an interesting perspective. Experiment with harsh light, play with contrast, and if the colors are too distracting simply remove them from the equation! Happy photo taking out there!

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