Zion and Bryce

It’s a rainy day here so it seems like the perfect day to add another blog post.

The Spring trip with my camera club buddies was to Zion and Bryce National Parks. I had previously been to Zion but Bryce NP was a new location for me. As we would discover, although beautiful at any time of the year, early Spring is perhaps not the most pristine time to visit.

One of the attractive aspects of Zion is the contrast of green cottonwood leaves against the red rock cliffs. With the trees bare this attraction was missing. I’m sure a week or two later it would have been spectacular as the new leaves pop out with that gorgeous green you get in the early Spring. We also had to abandon plans to hike the Narrows as the water flow rate was too high for safety.

With respect to Bryce, a combination of the winter’s snow along with fresh snowfall while we were there meant that most of the park was closed to vehicle access. As well, the trails below the rim were closed which meant that any photography involved shooting down into the canyon. I suspect that there are better shots to be had if you could get down below the rim and shoot across at the formations rather than down on them from above.

Now don’t get me wrong, I really enjoyed the trip and it is always great to see locations at different times of the year and in different conditions. I just found that photography was a little more challenging, but certainly not impossible, at this particular time.

Our first shoot in Zion National Park was of The Watchman. The last time we were in Zion we did the iconic shot from the bridge (see https://windaturback.com/2015/12/20/zion/ ). This time we shot it from along the river which gave quite a different point of view.

The Watchman

Early morning can yield some beautiful views along the Virgin River such as this one taken near The Grotto.

Due to rockslides, much of the Emerald Pools trail is closed although you can get as far as the lower pool. Here I tried my hand at a vertical pano.

Waterfall, Lower Emerald Pool

Backlighting of trees, combined with being in a canyon, can lead to some interesting black and white photos.

Sometimes, when wandering about, you come across little gems, like this mini waterfall. It was probably not much more than a foot in height. In this case I found that in the color version, the “stuff” around the waterfall (rocks, branches, deadfall, etc.) was a distraction while the B&W version tends to draw your attention to the waterfall itself.

For our second evening shoot we returned to a spot we had visited before to catch Mt. Kinesava in the light of the setting sun. I also took a pano stretching from Mt. Kinesava around to Johnson Mountain.

Early the next morning we donned our headlamps and repeated the hike to Canyon Overlook. While the hike is only about 20 or 30 minutes, the narrow spots on the trail can be somewhat intimidating in the dark. It is much more fun hiking out in the daylight. At the overlook we had a chilly, blustery wait for sunrise. With not a cloud in the sky it was not the most spectacular sunrise, but we did get some nice lighting on the tops of the Temple of the Virgins.

The rest of the day was spent poking around various parts of the park looking for some interesting compositions.

In the scene on the left I played around for a while with reflections in the little stream but ended up liking this composition better. I loved the texture in the old tree and how it leads into the scene.

The pair of photos below shows two different views of a twisted old pine growing out of a huge rock dome. It’s astounding that the tree has managed to survive.

Sunset that evening was a bit of a bust as in late afternoon the sun disappeared behind a heavy bank of clouds. Still, I managed to get some interesting late afternoon light.

The next morning we set up behind the museum to shoot upwards at the mountains we had shot down at the day before.

Temple of the Virgins

Following breakfast it was off to Bryce National Park. As mentioned above, most of the park was covered in snow and not open to vehicles. While we were there we were treated to fresh snowfall. With the snow, the rock formations in Bryce Canyon took on the appearance of gingerbread layered with icing.

And of course, as often happens on our trips, “those umbrellas” made an appearance.

In the photo below, I loved the reflections off the pavement as the trail leads you into the distant mist caused by the falling snow.

In the next two photos I was captivated by the early morning sun highlighting the snow-covered ridges. In the first one, I particularly like the “spotlight” on the little grove of trees.

All too soon it was time to head back home. While perhaps all of our expectations weren’t met on this trip, we still saw some pretty spectacular scenery. And there is always next time! Besides which, the companionship of my fellow photographers was second to none!

Sunrise at Bryce Canyon
This entry was posted in Landscape Photography, Nature, Photography, Travel and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Zion and Bryce

  1. smilecalm says:

    excellent shots!
    having been there
    i can appreciate
    the effort & skill. 🙂

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