Navajo Trail in Bryce Canyon (Utah)

After visiting Bryce Canyon on a couple of occasions, I still hadn’t fulfilled my dream of hiking down to the bottom of the canyon with my photography gear. The first time, I was hard pressed for time and could only drive along the rim of Bryce Canyon for a couple of hours, stopping only for a short period at vista points along the way.

During my two-week Southwest driving trip the following year, I dedicated an entire day to Bryce Canyon. But, again, I was out of luck. When I reached the park in the middle of May, the weather started rapidly changing and the warm spring morning transformed into a winter day complete with heavy snowfall. A hike down the canyon was out of the question.

USA. Utah. Bryce Canyon National Park
Loc: 37.621863, -112.164673

Finally, luck was on my side during my third attempt. Again, it was the middle of May and the weather was unpredictable as usual at 9,000-feet altitude. The temperature was around freezing as it started and stopped snowing on a few occasions. Fortunately, the snow never lasted long and it was still dry.

The hike down the Navajo Trail was easy and fast. Only 45 minutes into the hike, it felt like I was in an entirely different climate zone. The temperature was around 20°C with absolutely no wind because the bottom was shielded by the canyon’s walls. It felt like summer.

I found myself exploring the bottom of the canyon wearing a t-shirt. A few hours later, I completed my hike and reached my car at the top where the weather was wintry once again.

Shooting

Long before visiting Bryce Canyon the first time, I envisioned one day taking some shots of the famous switchbacks of Wall Street. Finally, I had the perfect opportunity.

Before visiting the Wall Street switchbacks, I saw it in multiple photographs and had a few of my own ideas on how to capture it. In real life, however, it was much smaller and narrower making it more challenging to photograph.

I used the widest focal length of 10mm and, even then, I had to tilt the camera down to get the foreground in the frame. This resulted in extreme conversions of vertical lines, which I decided to fix later in Lightroom to make them appear more realistic. But, when I opened the image in Lightroom at home, I really liked the original effect and decided against changing it.

Processing

This was the perfect case for using the HDR technique. The sky was bright and the shadows at the bottom of the Wall Street were dark. I knew from the beginning that I would take multiple bracketed shots and merge them later to HDR in Lightroom.

Step 1

I used the Merge for HDR module of Lightroom to combine three bracketed shots into an HDR image in DNG format.

Step 2

I used the Lightroom Rapid Editing workflow first.

I used the Natural preset from my Landscape Collection first and after I used TOOLKIT to boost colors and contrast.

The Lightroom Preset Editing Formula: Natural (8, 16, 21, 31)

Step 3

I switched over to Photoshop where I used the Stamp Tool to “erase” a couple of tourists climbing the Wall Street.

Step 4

In the end, I used the Topaz DeNoise plugin to reduce the digital noise.

Before & After Transformation

by Viktor Elizarov
I am a travel photographer and educator from Montreal, Canada, and a founder of PhotoTraces. I travel around the world and share my experiences here. Feel free to check my Travel Portfolio and download Free Lightroom Presets.

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