Oak Tree, Red Rock

Oak Tree, Red Rock
A twisting oak tree beneath red rock towers, Zion National Park.

Oak Tree, Red Rock. © Copyright 2021 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

A twisting oak tree beneath red rock towers, Zion National Park.

The title simplifies the content of this scene — there are actually several kinds of trees here, and the contrast between the lighter trunk of the foreground tree and the dark shape of the more distant tree is part of what attracted me to this scene. Other elements included the twisting shapes of the trees and the contrast between the bright green of the leaves (which are close to beginning their autumn color transition) and the red Utah sandstone.

The nature of light is almost always a key factor in photography, but it plays out in very special ways in the red rock canyons of the Southwest. As I have written previously, the typical photographers’ schedule (shoot very early and rather late) is upended in canyons. We often try to find the softer and warmer light of the very early and late hours of the day, but in these canyons the tall walls often keep the subjects in the soft shadow light much of the day, and direct sunlight reflected off the canyon walls can provide that warm color to the light. (To those used to having a midday break between morning and evening photography, this can be exhausting!) This photograph was made during those essentially middle-of-the-day hours, and the soft light illuminates and colors the scene.


G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist. His book, “California’s Fall Color: A Photographer’s Guide to Autumn in the Sierra” is available from Heyday Books, Amazon, and directly from G Dan Mitchell.

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Oak Tree, Red Rock