This summer, I went on a road trip with my family and friend to Zion National Park in Utah, marking off a trip from my bucket list. Like many, my familiarity with the park was through pictures, and I always wanted to experience the expansive canyons firsthand. Zion is a beautiful, surreal national park that exceeded all expectations. I recommend fully seeing 229 square miles of rock landscape to enjoy the scenery and hike for multiple days.
For those interested in going, plan your day. Make sure to anticipate traffic and show up early to avoid parking issues. A season pass will save you money if you plan to go multiple days, and preplanning your hike sites will save you time. There are many people throughout the year, so you don't want to worry about these things, make an itinerary.
We rented electric bikes, which made the trip more exciting. Zion does not allow personal cars one and a half miles in, leaving the rest of the 5 miles open for shuttles and cyclists to ride the park. Cycling is the best way to experience Zion. You avoid the lines of people riding the shuttle and experience the park at your own pace.
I took the Leica SL2 S for this trip because of its versatility, weather resistance, and minimal features. I pair the camera with the 45mm 2.8 Sigma lens. The 45mm lens is the most straightforward focal length to frame. That said, it also challenges me to think about my composition. The camera is still young and holds its own. The viewfinder is one of the best, with exemplary images accurate to the Leica line. My settings were manual, only using ISO 100 throughout the day and an f8 or f22. I used the camera as a point-and-shoot with no neutral density filters or tripod throughout the day. This camera setup allowed me to enjoy cycling the canyon and picking out compositions.
My aesthetic goal was to create a series of images that did not feel touristy but would look good as a postcard. My actual intent was to display magnitude and use sharpness to emphasize the rock formation. The skylight also changed throughout the day, so I used a smaller aperture to illuminate those blue skies. Like Ansel Adams' landscape photography, I wanted to touch the spirit of this country's landscape.
By the end of the day, we were all exhausted. While cycling is the best way to experience the park, riding a bike and hiking can be a workout. We enjoyed a good cold beer at the Zion Canyon Brew Hub. My visit to Utah was memorable. I also spent time in Hurricane, a lovely town with state parks 10 min away. Aside from Zion, we also visited the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, which I highly recommend. Check out my pictures below and sign up for my newsletter for future project announcements.