Permanent Collection Acquisition
U.S. National Park Service
Size: 18×21″ (45.7×53.3 cm)
About This Photo
Frederick Dellenbaugh was an artist who accompanied John Wesley Powell on his late-1800’s expedition of the Colorado River. Dellenbaugh’s images of Utah’s dramatic and fragile Zion Canyon was published in Scribner’s Magazine and exhibited at the Words Fair in 1904. His images of the area drew so much national attention that it 1909 it was declared a National Monument (and a National Park in 1919).
While serving as artist-in-residence at Zion I wanted to honor Dellenbaugh’s work, the park’s long history and the importance artists have played in the creation of many national parks. To do that, my camera gear included a vintage wooden camera made in 1907. That camera, a “Seneca medium format film camera” holds individual sheets of 4×5″ black and white film. Photographs of Zion Canyon made with Seneca cameras would have appeared in newspapers, magazines and exhibits in the early 1900’s. My intent was to photograph Zion as it looks today with a camera in use when the park was first established to convey its timeless scenery and the work of the park service to preserve public lands for future generations to enjoy.
One morning I awoke at 4 AM to the sound of high winds and snow coating the ground. Since the ground had been warmed by daytime temperatures of 65° F (18° C) during the prior week there was also a good chance that fog would appear in the early morning. Photos made in extreme weather conditions like snow, fog or rain can add an element of visual interest and mood to a photo.
At 5:30 AM I reached an area of the park known as The Narrows. As the sky begin to lighten, a nearby mountain peak that was covered in snow and faced east (toward sunrise) could be seen that looked like the perfect photo subject. Finding the best location to photograph it, however, required a one hour hike on snow and ice all while carrying 30 pounds (13 kg) of delicate equipment. After setting up the camera gear the sun slowly crested the horizon and as it did, fog began to fill the valley. As it did so, I made this photo and three others before a heavy fog hid the entire scene from view for the remainder of the morning.
TIP: You Can Create B&W Photos With Digital Cameras
[For more information on Zion National Park, visit their website by clicking here.]
Equipment: Seneca 4×5″ View Camera (1909), Wollensak f6.3 lens