Ralph Nordstrom Photography Workshops
Ralph Nordstrom
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2012 Southwest Utah Photography Workshop

Find more about Weather in Springdale, UT
Click for Zion weather forecast
Find more about Weather in Bryce, UT
Click for Bryce weather forecast
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Watchman, Zion
Watchman, Zion
Silent City, Bryce
Silent City, Bryce
Bonsai, Zion
Bonsai, Zion
Window, Bryce
Window, Bryce
Gateway to the Narrows, Zion
Gateway to the Narrows, Zion
Sunrise, Thor's Hammer, Bryce
Thor's Hammer, Bryce
Virgin River near Gateway to the Narrows
Virgin River
(near Gateway to the Narrows)
Star Trails, Thor's Hammer
Star Trails, Thor's Hammer
Aspen, Kolob Reservoir
Aspen, Kolob Reservoir
Earth Shadow over Bryce Point
Earth Shadow over Bryce Point
Checkerboard Mesa
Checkerboard Mesa
Red Canyon
Red Canyon
West Temple
West Temple
Kodachrome Basin
Kodachrome Basin

When: October 13-19, 2012
Cost: $975 (does not include lodging, meals, transportation or fees)
Deposit: $200 (non refundable)
Discounts: See the
2012 Discount Schedule

Have you experienced the joy and wonder of photographing Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks? Join a Ralph Nordstrom Photography workshop and explore the grand and intimate landscapes of these truly inspiring locations. Take your photography to the next level with personalized instruction from an award winning nature photographer. Expand your creative and technical skills through informative classes and valuable photo reviews. You will join an enthusiastic group of like minded people who share your passion for photography. We’ll go hard from dawn to dusk and when you return home you will be tired but satisfied and your memory cards will be full of great photographs. So join us. Others who have come with us on the Southwest Utah photography workshop have loved it and you will too.

There are a couple of things worth mentioning.  This is a photography workshop, not a photo tour.  We will be photographing during the great light of the day.  That is generally sunrise and sunset although if great light develops during the middle of the day we'll be out there.  But normally we'll spend the middle of the day holding classes and reviewing your photos.  Also, the proper camera gear is very important for a successful photography workshop experience.  This includes digital (or film) SLR with a range of lenses from wide angle to telephoto.  Also, a sturdy tripod is essential.  A more complete equipment list will be provided when you register.

A Little Background on Southwest Utah

The Southwest Utah photography workshop combines the Zion and Bryce Canyon National Park workshops.  I offer this combined workshop so that you can experience both of these magnificent parks and at the same time get the most from your travel dollar.

There is so much I am eager to share with you.  Zion is known for its magnificent canyon.  The towering red walls are accentuated by the graceful Virgin River that wanders the canyon bottom.  Up on the plateau we will explore the endlessly fascinating patterns of the petrified sand dunes found there.  If you want grandeur I have that for you.  If you want magical out-of-the-way still places Zion has that too.  We will cover the iconic locations and I’ll take you to some of my favorite little known, more intimate spots.

Middle October marks the beginning of autumn in Zion.  The Gamble oaks up on the plateau are already wearing their bright red foliage.  And the cottonwoods in the canyon are just starting to turn.  They are a vibrant lime green going on yellow that you have to see to believe.  I’m always inspired when I visit Zion and am eager to share it with you.

Bryce Canyon is a lot like Zion in some respects and totally different in others.  While the formations are different, both parks share the same vibrant red in the sandstone.  But the word ‘Canyon’ in its name is misleading.  Bryce is not a canyon at all but rather a series of amphitheaters at the edge of a large plateau.  And instead of being at the bottom gazing up we are at the top looking down.  The endless hoodoos are some of the most intriguing formations you will ever see.  And the glorious sunrises at Bryce are the best you will find anywhere.  There are so many great locations to share with you including Thor’s Hammer, Sunrise Point, Sunset Point, the Silent City and more.

Just a short drive from Bryce are two more exciting locations – Red Canyon and Kodachrome Basin State Park.  These are both ideal sunset locations but dramatically different in character.  I’ll take you to both of them where you can photograph the brilliant sunsets and the incredible alpenglow that follows.

With so much going for these two parks, it’s no surprise that these are popular workshops.  And most people that attend one also attend the other (for which there is a special discounted price).  These locations offer so much to see and photograph and so many opportunities to learn and grow as a photographer.  It’s no wonder that many people think of this area as a little bit of heaven.

A Typical Day and Itinerary

Our photography workshop will begin in the town of Springdale, Utah just outside Zion National Park on Saturday in the early afternoon.  After introductions and an orientation I will conduct a class that will set the tone for the days to follow and provide a foundation for the special skills we will need to photograph Zion and Bryce.

That evening we will get the workshop off to a grand start by photographing the iconic Watchman tower at sunset.  In the days to follow we will rise early for sunrise, arriving on location a half our to 45 minutes before the sun comes up.  We will continue to shoot through the morning while the light is still good.  In the middle of the day we will have additional classes and review your photographs.  But if the light is good we'll be out photographing.  Each day will end with a sunset shoot. 

On Tuesday we'll wrap up Zion with a sunrise shoot and then travel to Bryce Canyon.  We will arrive there in plenty of time to get settled into our hotel and head out into the park for sunset.

Each morning in Bryce we will explore a different vista for sunrise.  The remaining two afternoons we will travel to Red Canyon and Kodachrome Basin for sunset.

An optional shoot we will offer in Bryce is starry sky and star trails photography.  The amphitheater is perfectly situated to do some stunning night photography.  Usually not everyone joins in.  We go very hard all day long. But for those that are interested we'll be out there.  It's a fantastic experience.

It is important to point out that this is not a photo tour.  We will not be photographing every hour of the day.   We will confine our photographic activities to the best light.  The rest of the time we will spend reviewing photographs and studying various aspects of landscape photography.  We go for quality, not quantity when it comes to our photographs.


I'll be sending you a more detailed equipment list when you sign up but here are the essentials.

  • SLR camera (digital or film)

  • Lenses: an assortment that range from wide angle (17-24 mm) to telephoto (200 mm)

  • Sturdy tripod

  • Filters: polarizing and graduated neutral density and variable neutral density

  • Laptop computer (if you're shooting digital) with image processing software such as Lightroom or Aperture.

  • Misc. camera gear: extra batteries, memory cards, chargers, backup storage. etc.


The weather in Zion is very pleasant this time of year.  The average high for October is 78 and average low is 49.  Average rainfall for the month is 1.3 inches.  The sunrises up on the plateau will be five to ten degrees cooler and wind is always possible this time of year.

Bryce Canyon is several thousand feet higher than Zion and it is colder.  The average high is 58 and the average low is 32.  Below freezing temperatures are not uncommon in the morning.  Average precipitation is 2.0 inches which can consist of rain, sleet and snow. 


You will need to make your own lodging arrangements and we recommend you make them as soon as possible.

Springdale, Utah

Bumbleberry Inn (recommended)
(435) 722-3224

There are many other lodging options in Springdale.  Tripadvisor has contact information and reviews.  www.tripadvisor.com 

Bryce Canyon, Utah

Best Western Bryce Canyon Grand (recommended)
(435) 83405700

There are not as many lodging options in Bryce as there are in  Zion.  Roby's is the other main hotel.  You can check Tripadvisor for alternativse here also.

Meals and Dining

You will be responsible for your own meals but we will eat as a group.

We will have breakfast and dinner in the local restaurants.  Springdale has a wide variety of restaurants to choose from including some very fine ones.  The options in Bryce are a bit more limited but I know an out of the way place that serves excellent Navajo taco pizza.  It's a must for me every time I get within 20 miles of this place.

Lunches are often on the go. 

Because we start so early in the morning I have a tradition of bringing along Nature Valley granola bars to tide us over during sunrise until we can get a proper breakfast.

Traveling to Zion and Bryce

Out of State

If your coming from out of state the best airport to fly into is Las Vegas, Nevada.  You can rent a car there and drive to Springdale.  We don't travel on any challenging roads so a regular sedan is quite adequate.

You will driver north on I-15 to St George, Utah and from there go east on Utah 9 for the last 20 miles.  The total distance is about 170 miles and travel time about 3 hours.  There can be a bit of traffic getting out of Las Vegas depending on the time of day but generally the traffic is not bad heading north.

Returning from Bryce is a bit longer.  The total distance is about 250 miles and travel time between 4 1/2 and 5 hours.  You leave Bryce heading west on Utah 12 to US-89.  South on 89 to Utah 14 where you head west to Cedar City and I-15.  From there it's a straight shot to Las Vegas.


From Southern California take I-15 all the way to St George and then Utah 9 to Springdale.  Total driving distance from LA is 427 miles with a driving time of 7 to 8 hours.

The return trip from Bryce to LA is about 520 miles with a travel time of 9 to 10 hours.

From the Bay area the distance to Springdale is about 725 miles with a driving time of over 12 hours.  The return drive from Bryce is over 800 miles with a drive time around 14-15 hours.  You probably want to consider flying.

In Conclusion

Doing Zion and Bryce together is an extraordinary experience packed with inspiring photography.  Early autumn is a very special time of year.  The light is fantastic and if we're lucky there may be an early winter storm.  But you are my main focus.  I want to be sure you get the high quality photographs you want.  And I want to help you be a better photographer when you return home.  Your satisfaction is very important to me.

If you have any questions please don't hesitate to email me.  Click on Contact for my contact information.

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Check out Our Other 2012 Photography Workshops

Death Valley, February 11-14 Eastern Sierra Spring, June 2-7 Big Sur Summer, August 6-9
Zion Autumn Light, October 13-16 Bryce Canyon Autumn Light, October 16-19 Big Sur Winter, November 5-8
Utah Super Workshop (Zion and Bryce), October 13-19  
Instructor Bio Cancellation Policy Workshop Policy
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