Frequently Asked Questions: Page 1 2 3

2b. Photogenic landmarks and hikes:

Emerald Pools Trail (Zion National Park) -- © 2010 Joe Braun Photography
Lower Emerald Pools during a rainstorm.
Great White Throne (Zion National Park) -- © 2013 Joe Braun Photography
Datura flowers in front of the Great White Throne.
Angels Landing halo storm (Zion National Park) -- © 2014 Joe Braun Photography
Angels Landing surrounded by a halo of storm clouds.
Angels Landing Step of Faith (Zion National Park) -- © 2013 Joe Braun Photography
Angels Landing "Step of Faith."
Hidden Canyon pool (Zion National Park) -- © 2016 Joe Braun Photography
Reflective pothole at the mouth of Hidden Canyon.
The Zion Narrows (Zion National Park) -- © 2018 Joe Braun Photography
The Zion Narrows: Zion's quintessential slot canyon. The beauty never ceases to inspire.
The Subway (Zion National Park) -- © 2015 Joe Braun Photography
Every color of the rainbow in the lower Subway.
The Kolob Arch (Zion National Park) -- © 2004 Joe Braun Photography
Looking up at the Kolob Arch.

In 1980, the National Park Service printed a useful little photographic hints pamphlet that is now out of print. (Special thanks to Jeff S. for finding and scanning this great old document!) For more hiking ideas, please see my Recommended Hikes and Even More Hikes pages for detailed information on exploring Zion by foot. Do not limit yourself to being a photographer who only shoots a few feet away from his or her car!

3. How do I protect my photography gear in the Zion Narrows?

River canyons like the Zion Narrows are incredibly rewarding for photography, but they are absolutely treacherous for camera gear. When you hike the Narrows in normal conditions, you are typically hiking in knee to waist-deep water and occasionally, there may be one or two short sections of chest-deep water. (The base of Mystery Falls near the Temple of Sinawava is often deep.) At several crossings, the current can be quite powerful and it takes a great deal of balance and strength to keep from falling over. (In higher water conditions, hiking is much harder.) Needless to say, this is a dangerous situation for your exposed camera gear.

The Zion Narrows (Zion National Park) -- © 2011 Joe Braun Photography
A bowling ball peeks up above the rushing water of the Zion Narrows.

When I hike with my big camera, I typically stow it in a small Lowepro Toploader camera bag and use webbing and a small carabiner to attach it to a high point on the shoulder strap of my backpack. That puts my camera pretty high at chest level, yet keeps it easily accessible for shots. For balance, I use my big, sturdy tripod as a walking stick alongside one of my normal trekking poles. For added safety it is important to also bring a drybag for your camera and other electronics that fits in your backpack (like the Sea to Summit eVAC Dry Sack 20L), just in case you need to stow all of your camera gear for a precarious section of river. I also put a small towel inside the drybag to soak up any drops of water that might make their way inside. Be sure to test out your rig before your big hike. See the Hiking Gear page for more suggestions.

Orderville Canyon waterfall  -- © 2018 Joe Braun Photography
A little swimming pool in Orderville Canyon. A drybag for your camera gear will save the day.

For other wet adventures like Orderville Canyon, the Left Fork of North Creek (the Subway), and many of the subterranean technical canyoneering routes, you can pretty much count on having to swim several times, so be prepared to constantly set up and stow your camera gear in a drybag. You will also have to battle lens fog, moisture build-up and fine particles of sand that like to get in the buttons and dials of your camera. That's the risk you take to get great photos in such difficult locations. Be prepared for the possible loss of your gear. For tourists looking for an easier solution to getting souvenir photos, consider purchasing a waterproof camera like the Nikon Coolpix W300 or the Olympus TG-5. It will make wet canyon photography much simpler.

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