I love Zion. It is one of my favorite places in the world. Every year it seems I come back to this famous overlook in Zion National Park to get a shot of the Watchman of Zion at sunset. I don’t do many landscape shots, but it is always fun to do them at iconic places like this *A little disclaimer about this spot* Technically, the park does not allow you to stand there, but of course there are always a line of photographers across the bridge (so get there early!) This spot is interesting, you have to walk on to a bridge and get as close to the railing as possible. The park uses shuttles to bus people in and out of the park. I have tried my regular tripod with two legs perched on the ledge. With busses coming by, it did not feel exactly safe or stable, so I was really excited to try out my Really Right Stuff Pocket Pod with BH-25 Pro Ballhead. I also used the RRS multi-tool handle to raise my Canon 5D Mark III up from the base. The combination was the perfect choice to do long exposures!
Lets talk briefly about the shot I wanted to get. I wanted to do at least a 20 sec exposure to smooth out the Virgin River. I also wanted to control the highlights on the Watchman and avoid completely blowing out the sky. I solved these problems using a filter system. There are many filter sets you can get that will do a great job. I have a Lee Filters 100mm Filter system 100mm foundation kit, it holds up to 3 filters at once, works great. For this particular shot I chose the Lee “Little Stopper” (6 stops to smooth water) and my .9 Soft Graduated ND (3 stops for the sky). In the finished image above notice the grad in the upper right down to the peak. I had the NG turned at a angle to get the result I was looking for.
All and all, I think this compact system worked well to get the shot I wanted. Let me know if you have any questions using the comment section below.