Yesterday's Light

Images in Space and Time

When the Fog Rolled In

Fog entering Bryce Canyon Amphitheater

Fog entering Bryce Canyon Amphitheater

I mentioned in a previous post that we saw snow falling in Bryce on our second day there.  It happened early in the morning (shortly after sunrise) and only lasted about 30 minutes.  My initial thought was to get out to the amphitheater area as quickly as possible.  It seemed to me that the hoodoos just might have received a “sugar coating” of snow.  With the sun beginning to make its appearance, the effect would likely be photogenic.

Unfortunately, there was no sugar coating.  New snow had accumulated in flat areas of the canyon, but not on any of the spires.  Still, it was a beautiful sight, and one that I essentially had all to myself.  There had been a few people there when I arrived, presumably to photograph sunrise.  But they’d left or were in the process of leaving.  So I just wandered along the edge, enjoying the view and the silence.

As I stood there looking toward the east and the breaking clouds, I noticed that some of those clouds seemed awfully low.  And then I realized that those “clouds” were rolling over the eastern edge of the amphitheater and down into the canyon.

Not clouds, I thought.  Fog.  Fog was rapidly forming to the east and heading in my direction.  The snow that had fallen must have brought the air temperature and dew point within 4 degrees F of one another.  Creating Radiational Fog.  A rare event in the southwest.

Fog rolling through Bryce Canyon

Fog rolling through Bryce Canyon

Being a greedy SOB, I began hoping for a little something extra.  I don’t know if you’ve ever seen photographs of the effect or not, but on occasion fog will fill a deep canyon (even the Grand Canyon) so completely that you can’t see down into it.  It looks like a bathtub filled with water, except that the “water” is really fog.  Well, no cigar this time.  But I loved it anyway!

Fog enveloping Thor's Hammer, Bryce Canyon

Fog enveloping Thor’s Hammer, Bryce Canyon

Eventually the fog arrived on the west edge of the canyon, just below the entrance to the Navajo Trail and near what is perhaps Bryce’s most iconic hoodoo: Thor’s Hammer.

All in all, an experience much better than “sugar coated” hoodoos.  Although that would have been nice, too.

 

     

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14 Responses to “When the Fog Rolled In”

    • Paul Maxim

      Me too. I think it has the most amazing rock formations anywhere.

      Reply
  1. TomDills

    That looks like it was quite the experience, Paul. Even though you didn’t get your entire wish for a fog-filled canyon, you got some very unique photographs regardless.

    Reply
    • Paul Maxim

      You’re absolutely right, Tom. Much more interesting than the usual red rock / blue sky images of Bryce. Not that they’re bad, but I’ll take the atmospheric stuff any day!

      Reply
  2. E. Brooks

    Wow, very cool effect, Paul. I know it had to be exciting watching it develop and you certainly got some wonderful photos of it. Excellent!

    Reply
    • Paul Maxim

      Thanks, Brooks. Yes, it was the “watching” that I’ll remember. I’ve personally never seen anything like it before.

      Reply
  3. Cedric Canard

    Well it may not have been quite what you were hoping for Paul but you still got some nice pictures. The first shot with the fog rolling in looks pretty awesome. It would have been equally awesome watching it develop. Did you do any time-lapse or filming by any chance?

    Reply
    • Paul Maxim

      I’m with you, Cedric. I really like the first image. The sun had just broken through and was illuminating the tops of the spires in the foreground. And the pine tree right in front of me was lit. All in all, I think the light, shadows, and color work pretty well.

      It’s funny you ask that question. As soon as it started I realized that I should have carried my tripod (and a high capacity extra card) with me. But I didn’t. And the time-lapse opportunity struck me immediately. I thought of going back to the parking lot and getting it but was afraid to miss any of what I was seeing. In a word, I messed up. What’s that old saying – “luck favors the prepared”? Obviously, I wasn’t. I think a time-lapse would have worked very well. I could actually see it in my head as I stood there. I also thought about just switching to movie mode but didn’t for 2 reasons. First, the card in the camera didn’t have much room left on it and I didn’t have a spare on me, and second, the fog wasn’t moving all that fast. Again, a time-lapse with an exposure every 2 seconds or so would have worked nicely. Hopefully, I’ve learned a lesson here!

      Reply
      • Cedric Canard

        Perhaps you did mess up as you say but I would say you would have certainly messed up if you’d gone back to the car to get a new card. Much wiser to have stayed and watched and enjoyed it. I’m glad you got this opportunity to witness such an event. And you’ll have no problems triggering memories with these photos.

        Reply
    • Paul Maxim

      Thanks, Ivanderm. I also like the Thor’s Hammer image. And I’ve got a lot of them! Every time we visit Bryce I wind up photographing this icon. Just like everyone else, I suppose. But never in fog, until now.

      I visited your blog, by the way, and I hope you get to do all the traveling you wish to do. I was kind of a “late-starter”. After spending nearly 40 years wandering around the corporate cubicle universe it finally dawned on me that there was a very large world out there that I hadn’t seen. But I’m trying very hard to catch up!

      Reply
  4. Markus Spring

    Yes, like lvanderm I like the last image best. The way the fog isolates the towers from the normal background is special – and that is what I like fog for: Bringing out subjects in a different way, plus providing a quickly changing setup that offers many more sceneries than a normal blue sky day would do

    Reply
    • Paul Maxim

      You’re right, of course, Markus. I hadn’t thought of it that way before, but fog is a natural “isolator”. What I like about fog – especially as illustrated in the Thor’s Hammer image – is how it changes the appearance of things. In this case it’s the hoodoos behind Thor’s Hammer that look different than normal. These spires are whitish in color. The fog makes them look almost ghostlike. Almost a little spooky. At least that was my impression.

      Reply

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