As a landscape photographer, I find myself working mostly around sunrise and sunset. In general, these are the best times to make landscape photographs because of the beautiful and colorful light they provide. At Bryce Canyon National Park, however, I mostly prefer to work around sunrise.
The main reason I prefer sunrise is because more of the Bryce amphitheater gets the earliest light. At sunset, except in a few areas, the entire amphitheater is in shadow well before the sun has set. Under these conditions, the light is flat and dull. We really want that rich, golden light to fall on the rock formations to help bring out their deep orange and red colors.
Here’s an example, which I made very shortly after sunrise. The sun only shines on the right side of the highest formations. Another benefit of this time of day, which you can see here, is that a lot of the golden morning light reflects around and helps bring out the color of the surrounding hoodoos. It creates a glowing effect. This photograph has depth because of the play of light and shadow, and these kinds of scenes are more plentiful in the morning.
There are certainly good opportunities at sunset as well. Here’s one example from the first night of my trip last month. Here, the last bit of light on the landscape lights up the features in the distance, opposite of where the amphitheater is located. The sky, of course, is still getting light, which provides the benefit of having the sunset colors bouncing off the clouds in this photograph.
It is easier for me to find great photographs to make at Bryce during sunrise, however, so I prefer that time. This photograph, which I made from Bryce Point at sunrise during a previous visit, best illustrates my point. Look how much of the amphitheater on the left side of photograph is illuminated in the early morning light. To see the corresponding photograph at sunset, take a look at this blog article, and you will see exactly what I’m talking about.