Landscape: Temple of Sinawava in Zion National Park

Looking down the canyon

In Zions National Park at the end of the Temple of Sinawava trail you can walk up the shallow Virgin river. Last summer we took the kids.

The water is brown and cool and full of silt which suggests how these steep canyons were formed so dramatically. Everyone walking up the river was merry.  Being surrounded by such intense natural beauty creates peaceful, happy people. As I hiked the sweat quickly dried off my forehead in the heat.

As we labored up the current we came to a place where the river narrowed and the water was dark. Deep spot. We watched as a few teenagers laughed and stumbled through it. It was up to my naval which means that it was almost four feet deep.

We decided that the Gibson boys, Jack and I would go through. I had Grace in a baby backpack and had to decide whether or not to try it with a baby on my back. Of course, I decided I’d do it. Everyone laughed as Alex, Justin, and Ethan waded through. Scott took my camera bag and lifted his arms up through the spot. Jack went next and by then everyone was a little breathless as I moved towards the channel.

It was easier than I thought it’d be but Grace recognized the danger and grabbed my hair and pulled back hard. Her bare feet were dragging in the water and I had to stand there for a minute to pry her fingers out of my hair. I slipped and fell.  I was lucky, the canyon wall was there for me to brace myself against.

Once I joined to boys on the other side I confessed to Scott that I probably shouldn’t have done that. He chuckled and said “You’re braver than I am.”

The Gibson boys
Let me outta this contraption!


Technical notes, philisophy and photo tips

Shot with Rolleiflex FX on Kodak Ektar 100 film. Exposure times and f stops unknown.

The shadow dominates the canyon image. Its rough edge provides a strong diagonal line running from the left to the right top. That line gives this image a lot of visual interest. The shadow is deep. The optical proof has lots of creamy detail but the digital scan compresses the greys into a contrasty black with a little detail. That’s the only issue I have with scanning film. It compresses the grays and you lose the subtly that your eyes respond to in a fine art print. If you can’t understand what I mean by this I would suggest going to a fine art gallery that shows work of a great photographer printed large optically. Optical printing is done with a photograhic enlarger. see this.

The clouds were great that day. It was fun to watch them sprint across the sky. You could really see how fast they were going measured against the abrupt canyon walls. I always love photographing clouds. A photographer who I was in school with at Utah State, Chris Dunker, used to say to me “no sky, no fly”. Meaning if the sky was bald or bleak grey we wouldn’t go shoot. You can see his work on my blogroll.

-Jon Ball is a portrait photographer living in Boise, Idaho. His portraits can be found at Thank you for reading photo tips.



  1. I just returned from Zion yesterday; words cannot really describe it, as u know. Nature quantified, God outdid Himself…

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