Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Two quite different views of the same mountains in Zion National Park

with 36 comments

From Zion National Park on October 23, 2016, here are two quite different views of the same mountains (you can match up the profiles, going from the right). The picture above shows many details in the rocks and the vegetation, most conspicuously a gaily flowering rabbitbrush colony (Ericameria nauseosa). The heavily silhouetted view below shows details only in the clouds. We can describe the pair as differently dramatic.

And speaking of different appearances, here’s a quotation that’s ancient, though not as ancient as the mountains of Zion or even the behavior the words describe: “Hateful to me as the gates of Hades is that man who hides one thing in his heart and speaks another.” Homer, The Iliad.

© 2020 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

October 22, 2020 at 4:48 AM

36 Responses

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  1. Wow! Both of these images are striking! Zion is a place I will visit one day. I just hope I’m up to the challenging hiking by then. It is a place I’ve longed to visit for decades.


    October 22, 2020 at 7:37 AM

    • The clouds sure helped out with the drama. I didn’t realize what a great place Zion is till we were there. I do hope you fulfill your wish to go while hiking isn’t yet a challenge. Even then, you can see lots from the road as you drive around, and shuttle buses take you to the most visited part of the park.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 22, 2020 at 7:47 AM

  2. The lack of light in the second picture in contrast to the bright and cheerful mountain of the first photo creates a very sombre appearance.

    Peter Klopp

    October 22, 2020 at 8:33 AM

    • It just goes to show how much the approach to a picture can alter the subject’s “reality.”

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 22, 2020 at 8:42 AM

  3. I find the first image just stunning. So many photographers only show the rock~I greatly prefer how you have shown it here, with vegetation providing the setting.


    October 22, 2020 at 9:29 AM

    • I was impressed with the first picture myself when I went through my archive and rediscovered it. That was the only picture I planned to include here. Then I realized that a few heavily silhouetted photographs taken around the same time depicted the same mountains, so I added one of those for contrast.

      I’ve also taken and shown pictures in which the massive rocks predominate. They’re permanent, whereas colonies of wildflowers are intermittent. I lucked out in finding the one I could use as a foreground in the first picture.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 22, 2020 at 9:45 AM

  4. Your photos capture the glory of Zion nicely, Steve. I love the two different views.

    Jet Eliot

    October 22, 2020 at 11:50 AM

    • Zion is great, that’s for sure. I was happy to rediscover these two very different takes on the same mountain range.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 22, 2020 at 1:37 PM

  5. A wonderful comparison! The rabbit bush in the first photo and the clouds in the second are both the standouts, but really the shots are lovely. I’ve been to Zion, but as a child. I’d love to go back.


    October 22, 2020 at 5:30 PM

    • Get thee back there: you can see from these posts what a great place Zion is, and this time you’d see it with adult eyes.

      I’m glad you like the comparison, which occurred to me as an afterthought. The rabbitbrush seems to me to parallel the goldenrod that I left back in Austin to take this trip. Too bad I can’t photograph our goldenrods with mountains behind them.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 22, 2020 at 6:44 PM

  6. The first picture reminds me of an Ansel Adams photo in color. Very beautiful!


    October 22, 2020 at 7:44 PM

  7. Love that first image, Steve – beautifully done!

    Eliza Waters

    October 22, 2020 at 8:27 PM

  8. What a fortuitous flashback. I really hope to get there some day, but can’t seem to fit it into my tentative schedule, as things are going.


    October 23, 2020 at 4:40 AM

  9. That first image really shows Zion’s beauty. Another spot on my wish list.

    Steve Gingold

    October 24, 2020 at 2:46 AM

    • One virtue of Zion is that so much is visible without having to hike and climb. You mentioned the first picture; all I had to do to take it is pull over by the side of the road. Once the pandemic is past, if you can wangle a driving trip to the southwest, you’ll be in photographer’s heaven.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 24, 2020 at 8:22 AM

      • I sure would like to do that but it will be a while, pandemic notwithstanding. I am only semi-retired. Although I do get three weeks vacation and one sick, I couldn’t be away from my job for more than one.

        Steve Gingold

        October 24, 2020 at 11:26 AM

  10. The growth habit of the rabbitbrush looks remarkably like that of another plant in the Asteraceae I’ve just found in my area: bushy goldentop, or Euthamia leptocephala. The leaves are similar, and like the rabbitbrush, goldentop blooms are clustered (reasonably enough) near the top.

    The bands of color really make the first photo for me. It’s such a dramatic landscape, and yet it feels somehow approachable.


    October 24, 2020 at 10:20 PM

    • When I saw the bushy goldentop in your post last night I had the same reaction about its resemblance to the rabbitbrush. You have the advantage of having to travel only an hour to see yours, while mine was three or four days away. We could call that distantly approachable. And yes, the first picture does deliver drama.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 25, 2020 at 6:42 AM

  11. Oh damn, you’re really making me miss the desert – again!! Gorgeous!


    October 28, 2020 at 2:09 PM

    • The first picture was a great re-find in my archives when I looked back at all the places we got to on our 2016 trip.

      Steve Schwartzman

      October 28, 2020 at 3:01 PM

  12. Wonderful images .. such a beautiful place 🙂


    October 30, 2020 at 12:34 AM

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