The delightful rock formations that decorate the amphitheaters at Bryce Canyon National Park beg to be photographed, and they have been -- many times and from every conceivable angle. Look at those expensive, glossy calendars or the various coffee-table books filled with dramatic photos of the American West. In almost every single publication of this kind, you'll see Bryce Canyon's hoodoos standing tall, with their vibrant reds and oranges set against a pure blue sky and accented by the rich greens of junipers and piñon.
This scenery is why you came, and among the best souvenirs you can take home are good quality photos that you've taken yourself. While at Bryce Canyon, you're apt to see photographers loaded down with expensive equipment and all manner of lenses and filters; although these tools can be helpful (and fun), the most important element of photography is not the equipment, but the photographer. The way to get good photos of Bryce Canyon's hoodoos with practically any type of camera is simple: Choose your timing for the best lighting -- usually sunrise -- compose carefully, and keep your camera steady.
Professional photographers are always carrying on about getting the right light, and at Bryce Canyon this is especially important. That's because of the nature of the hoodoos. In early morning (and to a somewhat lesser degree in late afternoon), the low angle of the sun brings out the richness of the rocks' colors -- especially the reds and oranges -- and emphasizes shadows, creating a multidimensional scene. On the other hand, around noon, with light coming straight down, the hoodoos look washed out and flat.
Choosing a photographing location isn't difficult. There are plenty of spots along the Rim Trail for early-morning shots; those looking for sunset photos should head down the Rim Trail, past Inspiration Point, where it climbs a small hill, for the best angles. Those with telephoto or zoom lenses have the advantage of being able to get a variety of shots from one location along the rim; for close-ups and unique angles, you'll want to hike below the rim, and a wide-angle lens will often produce the best results. Some photographers like to use polarizing filters to bring out the colors of the rocks and deepen the blue of the sky.
A tripod is useful, especially when the light is a bit dim, to minimize vibration and help keep the camera from moving while you find the right composition. Those without tripods can steady their cameras by folding or balling up a jacket or sweater, resting it on a railing or other solid object, and holding the camera against it.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.