Natural Arch: Bryce Canyon

Since returning from Bryce and Zion National Parks in Utah last week, my friends have been asking to see my photos. It has taken me a week to begin selecting and processing some favorite images — partly because I have been ill, and I wanted to have my full faculties when I tackled this task. But when I sat down this morning to review the images, I was overwhelmed. The canyons are so vast and varied and awe-inspiring, and I hardly knew where to begin. I finally began with an undisputed favorite: Natural Arch about 20 miles inside of Bryce Canyon. Our workshop group of 13 had stopped there early Tuesday morning in 10 degree cold with high winds to boot. Fingers and toes were frozen, and knobs on both the tripod and camera were hard to manipulate. I got bogged down that morning and broke my remote trigger cord, and had the wrong ISO set on the camera from the night before. We all make these mistakes, while we’d prefer not to admit them.

Later that day we shot in a new location (same bitter cold and wind), and the next morning took us to a new sunrise location. After breakfast and two cups of hot coffee, I packed up my room for checkout, loaded the car and returned by myself to Natural Arch. I choose a composition that showed the whole arch and allowed the viewer to see through it, set the ISO correctly at 100, shaded the lens correctly, even set the f-stop at 22 and shutter at one quarter of a second to get maximum depth of field and a perfect histogram. And I captured a few images I can be proud of.

We had snow and these bitter cold temperatures in early November because Bryce Canyon is high altitude, over 8,000 feet. You can feel the thin air when you hike and have to take frequent breaks to catch your breath. Here’s evidence.

After this private shoot, I drove 2.5 hours south to Zion National Park, a completely different landscape at lower elevation.  I will have lots more to come from Bryce and Zion Canyons in the coming weeks. They are national treasures and well worth a visit. I definitely plan to go back and take family next time!

Author: cathykellyphotography

Independent photographer based in Pittsburgh PA and Naples FL. Nature, landscape and portrait photography. Portfolio includes international work in USA, Europe, Asia, Australia and New Zealand. Email to review work in your area of interest. Nature portfolio includes flowers and wildlife. Prints and digital files for sale. See website:

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