Optimism. There are a lot of tools in the gear bag of a landscape photographer but maybe none more important than optimism. I'd been to Zion several times and always wanted to photograph the Watchman in some cool light. As is often the case, the skies turn out to be blank and nothing really interesting happens. But this day was a little different. I'd been up early photographing the sunrise at Bryce with my good buddy Ken Koskela. We had a brief window to shoot Bryce and were feeling a little lucky already. And so we'd driven back down to Zion and had fun day of hiking and shooting in the rain, sleet and snow. Yep, that's right, the postal service has nothing on the landscape photographer.
We really wanted to photograph the Watchman at sunset since the last light falls on the face of the canyon walls and we'd struck out on all our previous attempts. Sunset was around 5:30 pm local and against our better judgment we pulled up to a spot that we'd found earlier and could make the short hike if the rain decided to stop. Things didn't look good at all as the rain was coming down or rather going sideways and the clouds were thick, really thick. And just when we thought it might be time to turn around and get some dinner, the rain stopped. Now it's 5:15 so we hustled down the slick trail and set up in case the light decided to appear between the rain clouds. And it did. The show was amazing. We watched in sort of an awed silence and the intense colors of last light made their way up the canyon walls of the Watchman. And if that wasn't enough clouds floated by just above the Watchman without obscuring the distinct lines of the canyon profile. Couldn't believe it and still can't. The light maybe lasted 10 minutes at the most. Sometimes optimism just makes all the difference. It sure did that night.