Nico DeBarmore is a photographer with a portfolio that spans not only across the United States, but also includes images from far-flung regions like India, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Peru. He is passionate about showing a place in the best light possible. This usually requires many repeated visits and attempts before he comes away with a final photograph. As a Utah resident for a time, Nico dove deep into the Narrows of Zion National Park, exploring the canyon repeatedly in a search for optimal lighting and diverse compositions.
Nico spent so much time in the Zion Narrows that he wrote a book on the subject – Photographing & Sightseeing in the Zion Narrows: A Guide to Finding the Glow. His book is one of a kind – describing in detail how to be at the right place at the right time to see the elusive “glow.” The book features over 20 picturesque compositions within the Narrows. It also includes an accurate map, GPS coordinates, hike times, distances, and photography tips.
→ Related reading: Photographer’s Guide to Zion National Park
Nico says, “Zion is a diverse park with so many different features to engage a photographer. Soaring sandstone cliffs tower above a lush valley teeming with life. My favorite part of the whole park is the Virgin River Narrows, and my favorite time is autumn. The cottonwoods turn to gold and add another pop of color against the blue water and red cliffs.”
“The beginning of the Narrows is along the Riverside Walk, and features a wide, tumbling river and many trees along the banks. This area is easily accessible and provides great photo opportunities for those who can’t venture all the way upriver.
“Those willing to get a little wet and wade up the Virgin River are rewarded with once-in-a-lifetime views of incredible sandstone passages. I like to wear waders or a dry suit in the fall to stay totally dry in spring and fall. Summer temperatures allow for hiking upriver in nothing more than a swimsuit.”
“Within the Narrows, my favorite section is Wall Street – all the way in the back. This section is difficult to photograph because the optimal lighting that creates a deep orange glow typically only occurs for half an hour each day. It can be tough to figure out, but it is worth it to really see each twist in the canyon in the best light.”
“Capturing the glow in the Zion National Park Narrows is all about understanding how the sunlight will bounce into the canyon. Direct sunlight on a canyon wall will cause a photo to be unsightly and blown-out. No bounced sunlight will cause a photo to appear dark and dull. The optimal lighting is when the sunlight hits a wall that is out of sight – around the corner – and the light from that wall then bounces into a wall within the photo frame. This creates a soft orange glow that makes photographing this area so striking and unique.”
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All photos in this post are © Nico DeBarmore, used with permission.