Continuing on with a quick review from 2021 and picking my top images from the year. July in the Desert SW can be characterized with one word: HOT. It’s like an oven here and all over the Desert SW with high temps rarely below 100º F. The relentless heat gives way to an interesting weather phenomenon though as monsoon moisture from the Pacific moves up from the south. The 5% humidity transitions to muggy days and the clear blue skies are filled with bubbling clouds. The monsoon storms of summer are a gift for the Desert SW and after 2 years of dry summers, the rains returned in a BIG way.
The desert is a landscape of contrasts. Long periods of time go by with nearly zero change. Day after day of the same thing with hardly any variation. But the monsoons are also a reminder of how quickly things can change and the summer of 2021 brought some dramatic changes. There were several days of massive flash floods in Zion National Park and throughout Southern Utah, nearly every slot canyon and river system was completely washed clean. There is evidence of this everywhere throughout Southern Utah with mature trees ripped from their roots and washed into canyons, new rockfall and scoured landscapes. Check out this video from Zion National Park to see one such day from late June of intense floods…in the parking lot!
Photography wise, I wanted to take advantage of the weather and photograph the amazing light which also comes from the monsoons, especially in the evening as the storms clear. July was a month of many trips and outings to Zion and nearby areas but not many “keepers”. I also tried to photograph the lightning over Zion but anyone who’s tried this knows it’s a game of almosts. Luckily, one turned out from the many attempts.
I learned much about patience and luck in this one month of chasing and trying. Sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn’t. I tried to put myself in positions where there was potential for a surprise and taking those chances can also lead to an image not working. Lastly, safety is a HUGE factor when attempting to photograph in these conditions. I’m always aware of lightning exposure, flash flooding and rockfall and looking after these safety concerns is ALWAYS more important than getting an image. The desert doesn’t care who you are and demands respect and attention when it comes to weather. There will be another storm to chase, more light to witness and more changes…just be patient. Thanks for reading:)