Zion and the struggle

Recently remodeled north side of the Bergstorm airport

Things were not going well for the Zion trip I had planned early July 2019. My left knee was still hampered from a knee effusion, my back was mysteriously aching like a geriatric, my full-frame D750 was still in the shop and I was forced into the D3300, and I missed my flight out of Austin, costing me a day in the trip. Furthermore, in order to catch the right light and peak Milky Way positions, I was expecting less than 7 hours of sleep for the long weekend. Safe to say, I was not feeling hot about my physical strength.

Any doubts I had were swiftly wiped as I stepped out the rental car and into the chilly desert air at the foot of the Canyon Junction bridge. For the first time in my life, I was able to see the Milky Way and countless stars with the naked eye. After picking up my jaw from the floor, pulling up PhotoPills to verify the Milky Way position next to the Watchmen, and struggling to setup the tripod with freezing fingers, I fired-off a few long exposures. I instantly regretted bringing the crop-body D3300 and the Tamron 24-70 f/2.8, as it was only about 35mm equivalent focal length, and I couldn’t capture the full majesty of the Milky Way core and the Watchmen, and had to settle for a subpar composition.

An acceptable shot, but a wider focal length would help the image "breath" a bit more

These remaining shots were shot on either the Tamron 24-70 f/2.8 or Tamron 70-300mm f/4-5.6 and on equally little sleep. I had done an adequate job planning the distances and timing between the shot locations and the Milky Way, but I seriously underestimated the bitterness of the desert cold and wind.

Looks like my next trip to the desert will require not just a wider lens, but a bigger coat…


Series shot with a Nikon D3300, Tamron 24-70 f/2.8, Tamron 70-300 f/4-5.6

Kolob overlook at sunrise

Canyon overlook

Midday in the southwest

The entrance to Valley of Fire, NV