Winter day break in Zion

I started my recent trip to the American South West at Zion National Park. I remember waking up jet lagged at about 2:30am to the sound of pouring rain. Unusual I thought for the desert in winter. About an hour later I looked out the window and it was snowing heavily. Not what I was expecting. By dawn there was about 4” of snow accumulation in Springdale and in the Canyon in Zion NP. Luckily at dawn the weather cleared and the sun came out striking the tops of the Patriachs with the valley winter white. It was an amazing morning!

What technical feedback would you like if any?


What artistic feedback would you like if any?

I’m deciding on a 4:5 ratio or a 2:3 ratio. Please let me know your preference. The 2:3 gives more visual weight to the peaks but the 4:5 includes more of the river bend.

Pertinent technical details or techniques:

(If this is a composite, etc. please be honest with your techniques to help others learn)
I only carry a 16-35mm lens and a 100-400mm. On the odd occasion that I require a mid focal length I shot at 35mm in portrait orientation and stitch together four images in light room. That’s what I’ve done with this image.

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Nathan, I love this image. I have tried many times, without success, to get a shot of the Patriarchs that I like. You nailed it! I prefer the second aspect ratio. Also, I wonder if warming it up slightly would make it better. Not sure, just a wonder…

Beautiful contrast between the warm colors in the peaks and the cold snow. It;s close but i’m leaning towards the second crop. I feel the bottom left is fairly empty and cropping it outweighs including the leading line.

You managed to be there at the right time to catch some fantastic conditions, Nathan. Hard to choose a favorite as both are lovely, but I am siding with the second version as I do not think you need all that space at the bottom. This has to be viewed large to appreciate all of the details of the snow covered trees. I am really enjoying the light on the peaks along with the warm and cool tones in the scene.

The second image is a stronger composition because the subject is essentially laid out horizontally. I particularly like the chestnut color in the peaks. I would rather not have those branches coming into the frame on the right side. If you have any shots without that I would look into it.

Hi Nate. I like the second crop the best . I also think the lower left is a distraction. It draws my eye back to it and away from the peaks. I actually think the trees on the right as well as the river bend help give edge completion to push your eye to the subject and the brighter light. Love the color of the peaks and the way they are lit up. The only thing I might try to do, is see if you can bring out just a tad more color and detail in the sky. Not much though.


It’s always great to see the desert Southwest draped in snow. Something about warm colors of the sandstone/rock mixed with the white snow… very beautiful.

Torn about the comp, but I’ll go with the crowd and say the second, 2:3 crop works best. That one is more like a portrait of the wintery spires where as the 4:5 is more like a traditional landscape. And the fact there are some details in the snow makes the 1st version work as well.

I do agree with Greg and was going to comment that my only wish would be for a little more color and definition in the sky. But the lighting and weather conditions and bits of fog on the peaks give this one an out. :wink:


Beautiful image, Nathan. Similar to Blake’s comment, I prefer the 2:3. I would darken the sky a bit and try to pull some texture out of the clouds. Also, it’s probably an optical illusion but it appears a bit tilted CCW.

I definitely prefer the second crop. It eliminates what I consider excessive foreground which takes away from the peaks. I agree with the suggestion to darken the sky a bit.

@Tony_Siciliano @Blake_Randall @Ed_Lowe @Greg_Stokesbury @Lon_Overacker @Dave_Dillemuth @Skip_Layman Thank you for your comments. I agree that the second crop at 2:3 ratio is the winner as it give more emphasis to the massive peaks.

@Igor_Doncov unfortunately the branch was unavoidable. However after making this shot I crossed the river and made some shots of the Patriarchs with no foreground obstructions as well as some telephoto shots of the mist moving off the peaks. I’ll post those when I process them.

Here is a revised image with the crop and with a slight warming filter applied. When I came back to the image I felt that the blue hues were just a little over powering. By warming the scene I found that the reds of the peaks became more prominent. For me it balanced the colours a bit better. Happy to hear anyone else thoughts on this. I also reduced the luminosity of the sky and added some contrast using a curve layer.


The final version nails it for me Nathan. The icy vegetation and the stunning backdrop make a great image.

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