Zion National Park - Utah, USA

Would you hole up in a hotel room?

Sometimes, the weather doesn’t cooperate when we’re on location. During one visit to Zion National Park in Utah, heavy rain fell for three solid days. This is the weather that flash floods come from… and come they did. A narrow canyon that had been empty minutes before suddenly let loose a raging flood of current. We watched from a safe distance, and then photographed this beautiful landscape that was so different from the Zion we knew.

Zion National Park - Utah, USA

Within hours, waterfalls formed on rock faces where there had been none before. Every crevice became a flowing river, and the water pooled in pockets and basins and hollows. We shared an umbrella – and shot in the rain.

Waterfall in the Desert - Varina Patel

Normally bone-dry, the sandstone mountains of this beautiful place turned to rich orange and pink as the water soaked in. It was an experience like no other – being in a place like this in uncommon weather. Our photos were so different from anything we’d captured here before. It was like exploring someplace entirely new.

Zion National Park - Utah, USA

But something else happened on this trip that really blew our minds. The day after the storms finally passed on, we met a young photographer at another nearby park. He was excited to be out shooting in such a beautiful place, and he told us that he’s paid a lot of money to spend a few days on location with an experienced photographer. He said they’d been stuck in a hotel room for the past three days because of the weather… and this was his first day shooting. When we seemed surprised, he noted that he didn’t feel to badly about it – the “pro” had told him that he was experiencing the “reality” of the profession. Apparently, “real” photographers hole up in hotel rooms when the weather gets bad. I guess we really messed up, being out there in weather like that. Nobody ever told us that being a pro meant ignoring the opportunity offered by unique conditions. Nobody told us we should hide from the rain.

Next time, we’ll know better.

The Flood - Varina Patel

Seriously though – we like to think of photography as an adventure. It’s a string of challenges, and that’s what makes it so endlessly appealing. We’re not suggesting that you should go out and shoot in dangerous weather… PLEASE DON’T! Check with park rangers to find out which areas could be dangerous, and use common sense. (Stay out of crevices and canyons if rain is coming – flash floods can be deadly. If there’s lightening, get yourself indoors or stay in a safe place. And so on.) But if you can be safe about it, get out there and enjoy the beauty of the storm. You never know what you might miss if don’t go out!

About Author Varina Patel

There is nothing more remarkable to me than the power of nature. It is both cataclysmic and subtle. Slow and continuous erosion by water and wind can create landscapes every bit as astonishing as those shaped by catastrophic events – and minuscule details can be as breathtaking as grand vistas that stretch from one horizon to the other. Nature is incredibly diverse. Burning desert sands and mossy riverbanks… Brilliant sunbeams and fading alpenglow… Silent snowfall and raging summer storms… Each offers a unique opportunity. I am irresistibly drawn to the challenge of finding my next photograph, and mastering the skills required to capture it effectively.

Landscape

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2 replies
  1. Cynthia Whelan
    Cynthia Whelan says:

    You are so right! I learned by being one of the “Rangers” and we were expected to work in whatever weather we were given. And what rewards we was! I would have missed so much had I not been out in the forest when others were hanging at the bar. Get good rain gear, learn what to watch out for (don’t be stupid, there are real dangers out there) and enjoy the beauty of a changing environment. I can’t wait for the next storm.

    Reply
    • Varina Patel
      Varina Patel says:

      Ahhh… forests in the rain. So beautiful. 🙂 We go out of our way to be in the forests when it’s been raining, Cynthia. The forest glows when everything is wet. It’s a remarkable experience.

      Reply

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