Twice-Reflected Light in The Narrows
Narrows of the Virgin River, Zion National Park, 2003
My favorite way to hike The Narrows of the Virgin River is to begin at the Temple of Sinawava, hike/wade/swim to Big Springs, and come back. It's a long hike, especially since a lot of that wading is over rocks roughly the size of bowling balls and which happen to have a friction coefficient approaching zero, but I get to see the canyon from both directions. One of the interesting aspects of photographing slot canyons is the time of day. Landscape photographers are used to photographing great light near sunrise and sunset, but that approach is unlikely to work in a slot canyon. Instead, the general best time of day for good light in a slot canyon is the middle, when the sun can illuminate one of the walls of the canyon, but the contrast between direct illumination and shadow in a slot is too harsh. What we really want is what I call twice-reflected light: The light bounces directly from the sun off one wall and onto another, where the light then bounces to our eye. Much of the light that made this bend interesting to me is twice reflected. Photo © copyright by Greg Owens.