Sunset Point Panorama, Bryce Canyon NP, Utah

Last year I took a fantastic 4 day trip around the southwest with a couple friends in the spring (JohnRav and LionTX), including a nearly full day at Bryce Canyon National Park. Since it was such a rare opportunity for me to roam around the southwest, I treated myself to renting one of Nikon's best lenses, the prohibitively expensive 70-200 f/2.8 VR. It turned out though that as great as it was, I wasn't getting a lot of use out of it... it just isn't my focal length of choice.

Well we decided to shoot Bruce Canyon early, shooting before the sun reached the horizon. After taking in the sunrise at Sunset Point I decided to walk the rim trail towards sunset point while John and LionTX drove there. About midway across the rim I was looking back at the hoodoos that lie below sunset point and thought it was just a beautiful scene.

At this point I thought that, as much as I love my D40, there was no way it's 6MP sensor would do the scene justice. I set up the tripod and mounted the 70-200 and, rather than taking one wide angle shot, I took a bunch of zoomed shots at 80mm (taking great care not to bump the zoom or focus rings). Since one of the great things about that lens is its minimal distortion I knew they should stitch together as a panorama.

My old PC would have died trying to manage it, but my new PC managed to work through the 64 individual frames to turn out a 58MP shot that you see here. I'm really quite happy with it - thought it was quite a lot of work - I don't think I'd do it all the time.

As for the photo itself, I just found this to be a lovely scene. It was after the warmed sunrise light, but the sun was still low in the sky. You can get an idea of its position by looking at where the shadow falls. One thing I particularly liked about Bryce was that the light reflected of the sandstone and filled in the shadows well, so rather than harsh shadows, I thought the light stayed soft and warm almost the entire day. I think that's reflected nicely here.

Nikon D40 | Nikon 70-200VR@80mm | f/8 | 1/200s | ISO200 | Tripod | 64 Frames

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