Cottonwoods and Sandstone
For Ken and Juha, a color version of a cottonwood (in full sun) standing next to a Navajo sandstone wall. I’ve done little to this image (other than apply some sharpening), but it’s still close to what I remember seeing. In this case, the tree is fully illuminated, but the light on the cliff wall is reflected light. The wall you see is actually in shadow, but the opposite wall is “lit” and casting a reflected reddish light. Many photographers use this kind of reflected light to give a red cast to the Virgin River. Where the water is moving slow, and there’s no wind, the effect can be striking.
If you don’t like shooting at dawn or sunset, by the way, Zion can be a perfect alternative (if you’re in the canyon itself). Here, late morning to mid-afternoon can be the best times for combining sunlight and deep shadows. The walls, remember, are very high. The sun doesn’t even “see” the inner canyon until 9:00 or 10:00 AM in most spots.