17 Nov

Autumn comes to Lower Emerald Pool Waterfall, Zion

The Emerald Pools in Zion National Park aren’t really all that impressive, in my opinion, but the overhanging stone amphitheatre that sits above Lower Emerald Pool is very impressive. A number of small waterfalls cascade over its lip; I expect that in high water in the spring or after a thunderstorm, those small waterfalls become one giant curtain. Not so in late autumn, however, when water levels are typically near their lowest for the year. Still, it is beautiful place to visit, anytime of year, especially when fall color brightens things up.

"Lower Emerald Pool Falls" - Zion National Park

"Lower Emerald Pool Falls" - Zion National Park

I took my Zion workshop group on the short hike to Lower Emerald Pool to photograph the surrounding terrain after sunrise. When the sun was high enough, we were able to photograph the falls with spot-lighting striking the autumn color beneath. Because the light was so bright by this time, I was forced to use my lowest ISO, smallest aperture, and a polarizer filter in order to get a shutter speed of approximately one-half second, necessary to create some motion blur in the falling water. In terms of composition, the image is a series of abstract repeating triangles. I like to use shapes—preferably repeating shapes—when composing images, as they attract the eye and help simplify the composition, reducing Nature’s inherent chaos to a manageable level.

Technical details: Canon 5D Mark II, 24-105mm lens (@58mm), polarizer filter to reduce glare and increase exposure time, ISO 50, f/22, 0.4 seconds. 

Ian PlantAbout Ian Plant (401 Posts)

Ian Plant's photographs and instructional articles have appeared in a number of books, calendars, and magazines, including Outdoor Photographer and Popular Photography. Ian writes a regular blog column for Outdoor Photographer online, and he is the author of numerous instructional eBooks and videos. Ian leads several photo tours each year.


  • Love the neck craning perspective. A job well done Ian!

  • Great use of triangles! I love using circles and the Golden Section. Your compositions are so simply beautiful. Great and creative shot! I love how you can break the different parts up easily.

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