The life of landscape photographers is a sleepless one. Between late summer sunsets, nights out shooting the stars, and a sunrise alarm ever-looming, finding time to rest can be challenging.
We knew we had pushed our legs, hearts, and minds as far as we could as we began the drive from Cedar Breaks to Bryce Canyon. It was time for a reset; time to get out of the van and into an air-conditioned hotel room.
To say we were excited to arrive at the Bryce View Lodge would be an understatement. It was pure relief.
We had already hiked about 8 miles that morning by the time we were handed the keys to our room outside the national park. After a hot shower, a cold beer, and a moment of peace, we decided to go on a “scouting mission” of Bryce.
It was about 5pm: the plan was only to drive to the viewpoints and figure out where to shoot sunset, sunrise, and maybe a bit of Milky Way. We should know better by now, but we don’t…
Somehow, we ended up walking another 3+ miles photographing the incredible light, textures, and geologic formations that make Bryce Canyon so remarkable. Suddenly, it was sunset and our short scouting mission had consumed all of our free time.
The Milky Way would be visible in about 70 minutes. Several ideal compositions had already been scouted that had us excited. Rather than enjoy the hotel and a night off, we were loading up the backpacks, putting on head torches, and hitting the trail for a night hike of astrophotography.
As we approached the trailhead, our plans changed for the second time that day already when a lightning bolt struck down in the distance beyond the Bryce Amphitheater.
“I think we need to scrap the Milky Way shoot,” I said. Without missing a beat, all Sophie replied was an enthusiastic “Yep!”.
We abandoned all the spots we had scouted and instead pushed our tired legs up and down the Queen’s Garden Trail while we endeavored to find photogenic foregrounds to include some of the distant lightning. Milky Way would be around again tomorrow and most other nights, but getting a lightning storm was a gift that could not be wasted.
Around 11pm, we finally slumped into the van, hungry and exhausted. Our quick scouting mission had become a 6-hour chase up and down Bryce Canyon. Sitting on our camera memory cards lived incredible micro-moments of golden hour, sunset clouds, lightning bolts, and yes, even a series of moonlit scenes under the Milky Way.