Hidden Treasure —The WOW Faith Cover Photo

Sometimes the best surprises in photography require exploration and adventure.

I was on this amazing Grand Circle Red Rock Adventure with Nikon legend, Bill Fortney, and the His Light Workshops photography group, in November, 2012. We were on our way out of Zion National Park, headed toward Page, Arizona, for an extended photoshoot of the scintillating Slots at Antelope Canyon and the treacherous cliffside Horseshoe Bend locations. As we crossed the bridge over the Virgin River in Zion, we decided to turn left and take one more journey looking for some more majestic views. We saw a turnout and a sign that said “Court of the Patriarchs.” So I immediately pulled over unable to resist the opportunity to check it out. From the road you could only see some incredibly tall mountains hidden behind massive trees, their leaves already changing to a rainbow of colors in the early chill of a Fall climate. This gallery includes the initial, limited view of The Patriarchs from the near the bridge roadside location.

The Court Of The Patriarchs

Views of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob Peaks, Mount Moroni, and The Sentinel. The Three Patriarchs are made of Navajo sandstone. The Patriarchs are three neighboring sandstone peaks on the west side of Zion Canyon. Each is named after biblical fathers. From left to right (south to north) they are Abraham Peak, Isaac Peak, and Jacob Peak. Abraham Peak is the tallest at 6,890 feet. The white top of Jacob Peak rises behind the orange rock of Mount Moroni. The Patriarchs were named by Frederick Vining Fisher, a Methodist minister who ventured into Zion in 1916, labeling numerous prominent points in Zion Canyon. He decided to name these three peaks after Old Testament daddies, and the titles stuck.

I grabbed my Nikon D7000 camera, gitzo carbon fiber tripod, and began hiking down this little trail and across the bridge. I could see a massive grove of trees and beyond, the Virgin River and a majestic view of these beautiful mountains that seemed to be turning a yellowish hue with the rising sun. Not much of a shot from the road and bridge area — too obscured by the trees in front of me. I knew that in order to get the shot I really wanted, I would be forced to climb down through the trees and brush to the river bed about a hundred feet below. Of course, I decided to go for it!

Now, climbing with a camera and tripod is not easy. You have to do it carefully. So while I climbed down to the river I focused completely on the terrain. One tenuous step at a time. When I finally got down to the river bed I looked up at the imposing Court Of The Patriarchs — three gigantic mountain peaks individually named Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. They were breathtaking with the sunrise suddenly lighting up the sandstone rock faces to a yellow vibrance. This was the shot!

So how do you shoot these beautiful mountains? My camera was facing a languishing but glaring sunrise, the mountain facade gradually becoming quite dark against the bright sky. So I had different exposures of light, with some full sun on the mountains, and almost no sun on the river. Right away, I knew I must opt for a final HDR (high dynamic range) image and shoot a 3-bracketed exposure so that I could capture all the hidden nuances and highlights. So I adjusted my camera settings on the fly — Nikon D7000, 12-24mm lens, FL 12.0mm, ISO 160, f/13, 3 Bracketed EXP. An hour later — mission accomplished. I’d need to pray for some sovereigndipity in post-processing at a later date.

Image Post-Processing Technique

Fast forward to early Summer, 2014. I’ve just finished the final draft of my new A Quiet Time Experience, Walk On Water Faith — Discovering Power In The Promises Of God. The planning and design committee has decided to include myPhotoWalk Devotional Photography images in every daily quiet time — something Quiet Time Ministries Press has never done in a quiet time study, an already complex project, written according to the The PRAYER Quiet Time Plan.

The deadline is fast approaching for Title Setup at Lightning Source, our Ingram Distributor’s printing facility. We need an eye-catching cover image that says, “Walk On Water Faith,” on a thousand different levels. We search through hundreds of photoshoots and immediately select the Zion National Park group as perfect for the book. And then I remembered that final photoshoot on the way out of Zion, capturing the Three Patriarchs. I study the 3 bracketed exposures of the image. The central exposure is dark. What to do? I just love this shot for the cover! But I know I can pull in all the highlights using Photomatix Pro. Photomatix Pro merges photographs taken at varying exposure levels into a single HDR image that reveals both highlight and shadow details, with options for automatically aligning hand-held photographs, removing ghosts, and reducing noise and chromatic aberrations. Users can then adjust the merged images by a range of options and settings to get the look they want — from natural-looking results to painterly, surreal or ultra-realistic images. The program also includes a plugin for Adobe Lightroom for users who want to integrate Photomatix Pro into their Lightroom workflow.

  • Photomatix Pro — Tonemapping performed — Tone mapping is a technique used in image processing and computer graphics to map one set of colors to another to approximate the appearance of high dynamic range images in a medium that has a more limited dynamic range.
  • Adobe Camera Raw — image still dark and needed work in Adobe Camera Raw — highlights, shadows, clarity, and sharpening.
  • Adobe Photoshop — Brightness and Contrast Adjustment
  • Adobe Photoshop — Healing Brush clean up of various water reflections, tree branches, skyline aberrations, and sensor dust.
  • Nik Vivesa 2 — Layer Mask to paint in the lighter view that was actually on the trees that didn’t light up with the sensor since I exposed mostly for the highlights on the mountains.
  • Imageonics Noiseware — there’s always too much noise!

Finally I merged all the image layers and produced the final version — the hidden treasure of God’s great creation. Thank you Lord!

I titled this image, “The Victory Of Faith,” choosing the devotional, 1 John 5:4 — “This is the victory that has overcome the world — our faith.” And this Court of the Patriarchs image is a fitting cover for Walk on Water Faith since Abraham is known for his faith and is the subject of one whole chapter in my book. I hope you like this cover and all the myPhotoWalk Devotional Photography included in the book.

♥ Blessings and Grace to You!


The Grand Circle is a beautiful, expansive region located in the Southwestern United States. Encompassing portions of five states — Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, and Nevada — the Grand Circle contains America’s largest concentration of national parks and monuments, linked together by nationally designated Scenic Byways. Some of America’s most extraordinary scenery can be found within the Grand Circle — Grand Canyon National Park, Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, Lake Powell, Arches National Park, Monument Valley, Utah, and Antelope Canyon, Arizona.

Bill Fortney, a world renowned professional photographer and Nikon legend, founded His Light Ministries upon John 8:12 (NKJV), “Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.'” He conducts His Light Workshops in spectacular photography locations such as Monument Valley, Utah, Glacier National Park, Montana, and The Great Oregon Coast.
Bill Fortney, His Light Ministries

myPhotoWalk Devotional

… This is the victory that has overcome the world — our faith.
1 John 5:4

myPhotoWalk Technical

  • Title: The Victory Of Faith
  •   This Walk On Water Faith cover image is proprietary and is not available on SmugMug.
  • Description: I captured The Three Patriarchs from a deep in the river bed photoshoot location.
  • Creator: Catherine Martin
  • Date Created: 11/07/12
  • Camera: Nikon D7000 12-24mm lens, FL 12.0mm, ISO 160, f/13, 3 Bracketed EXP.
  • Photoshoot: Bill Fortney’s His Light Workshops PhotoShoot at Zion National Park, Utah, USA.
  • Post-Processing: Photomatix Pro, Adobe Photoshop, MacPhun Software, Nik Software.
  • Copyright ©2018 Catherine Martin — myPhotoWalk™ — Quiet Time Ministries. All Rights Reserved.

— myPhotoWalk

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