Thanks for the tip. I just came back in yesterday from a full week and I enjoyed the trip. It was hard work of minimum 12 hours a day hiking and taking photos with probably less than 6 hours of sleep every night.
The locals told me that this past week was the peak for the foliage color. They said a lot of photographers came in 2 weeks before that, but it was actually not the peak, and they had to chase up the canyon to get the color. It did sound like generally the first week of November is the peak in Zion, but it was closer to 3rd week in November for this year.
The colors were very good everywhere in the park, but I would say up near the canyon riverwalk area, it has passed the peak and the leaves were half gone on the trees. But anything below that it was good.
I ended up spending 4 days in Zion and 2 days in Bryce. I think generally that is a good break down. Unfortunately the weather in Bryce wasn't very good (the winter storm was coming in, and so I did not have much of sunrise or sunset) so I am not sure if I am going to get much of a keeper shots out of there.
Some random thoughts in Zion
- I wish I had a wider angle than 24mm. This was the first time shooting inside the canyon for me, and did not realize how close I would be to these peaks. It was hard to capture the images that I envisioned because I was too close to the peaks, and I couldn't get the foreground and the peaks in the same picture. I had to do some work around by doing panorama shots with my 24mm and stitching it later, which doesn't always work out. Next time I would like to have a 16-35mm, 17-40mm, or 17mm TS-E with me and it would make my lifer easier.
- The park is beautiful, but I find that it was harder to capture them, compared to other national parks, in order to do a justice to that place. It might be because I am down deep in the canyon, and you are always looking way up to see things that are beautiful. I wanted a bit more space between me and my subject
- The sky is generally really boring clear blue which makes it a bit of challenge. I am used to a ton of clouds in the sky, so this was a challenge.
- While many trails were great for hiking purpose, I would say they are not that photogenic, and I could have skipped those to approach other parts of the park. For example, Watchmen trail. I went up to take this great photo of watchmen at the sunset time, then I realized that the peak is right in front of me, the side facing the sun is facing away from me, and there is really no interesting foreground to take a picture of with the peak.
Quick thoughts on Bryce
- I was standing at the Sunset Point, waiting to take this great sunset photo. Then I realized that Sunset Point was not a very good location for sunset shots. There was no warm lights on the hoodoos at all. In fact, I realized the next evening that the entire park is not a very good place for sunset shots. You need to hit them during the sunrise. I wish people would have told me this. I could have gotten an OK sunset shots at the Sunrise Point, where the colors will be behind the hoodoos in the sky over the ridges, but overall, these warm glow of lights on hoodoos are all shot in the sunrise and not at sunset.
- While the whole park is nice, I would only concentrate on the main amphitheater covering the Sunrise, Sunset, Inspiration and Bryce Point and the rim trails that connects those, plus the down the canyon shots in the queens trails and Navajo trails, especially if you are going to only spend 2 days.
- I went out to the Red Canyon, and while it was good, I preferred the queens and Navajo trails within Bryce better. They have similar feel to them, but I think Bryce was slightly better.
- I was taking way too many wide vista shots of from the view points, until I realized that I need to zoom in a lot tighter and show less of it.
- At Zion, you can take pictures pretty much throughout the day, because the best light and time changes depends on which part of the canyon you are in. In Bryce, you really only have from the sunrise time until early/mid morning. After that the light gets flat and the hoodoos do not glow. This makes it a bit more challenging to shoot in the park when you only have 2 days.