Day 3 – Extreme Weather in Bryce Canyon

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This is a series of blog posts where I recap my latest photography trip to American Southwest.

From Kanab to Bryce

The city of Kanab is a very important place when you visit Utah and Arizona. It is strategically located in the “Grand Circle” area within driving reach to iconic destinations such as Bryce Canyon, Zion National Park, Grand Canyon, Lake Powell and the Vermilion Cliffs National Monument.

After a successful day two of my trip spending the entire day in Zion, I was ready to tackle the Bryce Canyon National Park, which was located 100 km from my hotel in Kanab.

During my trip, I met many photographers from different parts of the world and, every time after a short talk about photo equipment and weather, we would always end up discussing the best location, from a photography standpoint, in southern Utah and northern Arizona.

Some photographers prefer Zion and some prefer the Grand Canyon but, for me, I always prefer Bryce Canyon. It is such an easy choice because of its distinctive and sometimes even surreal colors and shapes. The extraterrestrial looking landscapes of Bryce Canyon always fascinates me.

Extreme Weather in Bryce Canyon
Utah. Bryce Canyon
Loc: 37.622100, -112.166205

That day, my only concern was the weather. The year before I had to cut my visit to Bryce short in the middle of the day due to a major snowstorm when the temperature plummeted from 20°C to -2°C (68°F to 28°F)  in a matter of hours

This year, however, I was lucky. Even though the temperature fluctuations were extreme (from 25°C/77F° to 5°C/41F°), it never dropped below freezing. The rain started at least five different times, but I never complained because the extreme weather changes resulted in a beautiful sky with stunning cloud formations.

Another highlight of my visit to Bryce was the hike to the bottom of the canyon. The view from the bottom gives you a completely different perspective on Bryce where, instead of shooting wide open landscapes, you shoot up converging orange rocks.

Also, when you reach the bottom of the canyon, it feels as if you are in an entirely different climate zone as it is much warmer down there with absolutely no wind. It looked very comical when I was climbing up, sweat pouring through my t-shirt, as all of the hikers climbing down were dressed for winter.

Shooting & Processing

There were not too many challenges with shooting and processing. I took 3 bracketed shots (-1, 0, +1) on a tripod but when I started editing them in Lightroom I realized that I did not need to use HDR processing, single RAW was enough.

I used a Lightroom preset based editing, using Point Lobos present from my Landscapes Collection (you can always download free lightroom presets here).

Deconstructing Featured Photo

Camera: Sony a6000
Lens: Sony 10-18
Focal Length: 16mm
ISO: 100
Aperture: F9
Tripod: FEISOL Tournament CT-3442  – Check my FEISOL Tournament CT-3442 Review.
Ballhead: FEISOL CB-40D

Processing: Lightroom HDR Preset Based Workflow

Lightroom: import, tagging, HDR Merge, preset based processing (Point Lobos preset from Landscape Collection)
Photoshop: contrast, color correction, cleaning.

Photoshop Plugins: 

  • Incredible job Viktor. I never knew that those locations feature such temperature fluctuations! They look like very hot stable places, instead of what you’re saying.

    • Roby, Bryce Canyon elevation reaches up to 2800m above the sea level. It is always unpredictable at such an altitude.

      • Viktor, thanks for the info, sorry for my ignorance about those amazing places. In other words there’s nothing different from a mountain location, where I’ve been too and experienced the weather unpredictability!

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