This is a series of blog posts where I recap my latest photography trip to American Southwest.
- Intro - American Southwest Photography Trip Recap
- Day 1 - Packing Fast and Light (Look inside of my camera bag)
- Day 2 - Conquering Angels Landing in Zion National Park
- Day 3 - Extreme Weather in Bryce Canyon
- Day 4 - U.S. Route 89 Loop
My second day of the trip was entirely dedicated to an exploration of Zion National Park.
The highlight of the day was hiking all the way to the top of the famous Angels Landing trail.
I have visited Zion previously, knew what to expect and had all the facts about the trail.
Average Hiking Time: 5 hours
Difficulty: Strenuous uphill hike.
Sun Exposure: Full sun
Trail Usage: Heavy
Since the average person does not hike with a tripod and does not stop every 100 meters to take photos, I estimated the average travel photographer hiking time to somewhere between 7 to 8 hours.
I also knew that late morning and early afternoon hours in Zion could be very crowded and, in general, I am not very fond of people in my landscapes. Instead of unapologetically removing them from my reality in Photoshop, I decided to beat the crowd and start the hike as early as possible.
I was on the very first park’s shuttle bus in the early morning as I started my hike in a very comfortable cool temperature with absolutely no people around.
In the beginning, it was a steep but very comfortable hike, with amazing open views and plenty of room to setup a tripod.
The last half mile of the Angels Landing hike became a bit extreme. I had to pack my tripod and climb with the camera hung around my neck. That was the moment when I really appreciated the switch from DSLR to mirrorless.
For some reason, the hiking down was less uncomfortable than going up.
Once again, after analyzing the scene I could see the very bright area of the sky and the deep shadows at the bottom of the canyon. To shoot for HDR was the obvious choice.
I took 3 bracketed shots (-1, 0, +1) on a tripod.
I keep experimenting with Lightroom 6 new feature – HDR Merge. I like that Lightroom produces HDR file in DNG format which is relatively small. I also appreciate that Lightroom adds “HDR” to the name of newly created DNG file.
I merged 3 bracketed RAW images to HDR using Lightroom 6.
Deconstructing Featured Photo
Processing: Lightroom HDR Preset Based Workflow
- Topaz DeNoise was used to reduce digital noise (sky). (Check my Topaz DeNoise Product Review).
- Topaz Clarity was used to enhance details and boost colors (rocks mostly).