a photoblog of God's handiwork.

Listen to the Clouds; Bryce Canyon

It is about time to bring our southwest trip to a close. Beginning in Phoenix (Arizona Birding), we made our way to the Grand Canyon (Who Stole the Grand Canyon), then Zion National Park (Shroud over Zion), and finally arrived at Bryce Canyon National Park. Except for gale-force winds, we couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful day to welcome us to this geological wonderland! Some fresh snow from the previous night lingered, while the clouds were working their way in an easterly direction. The biting wind-chill kept many of the tourists at bay, so those of us that braved the day were rewarded with a peaceful visit. As astounding as the hoodoos, cliffs and weathered mountainsides were, the cloud formations were amazing, and really enhanced the breathtaking landscapes. Unfortunately the images posted below don’t do justice to the scenes, but if you haven’t yet visited Bryce Canyon, they might at least give you some encouragement to make it a destination on your bucket list. All of the images will open to a larger format if you click on them.

The first four images are the result of High Dynamic Range (HDR) composites, which I often utilize for scenes with a lot of contrast. In many ways, HDR helps photos look more like what our eyes see, which a single photographic exposure cannot create. However, this same technique can also be used to add some artistic flair, which you may particularly notice in the second image.

It’s All About The Clouds; looking east from the northern edge of Bryce Canyon National Park

Stylized HDR Rendition of Bryce Canyon National Park

2-shot HDR Rendering of Bryce Canyon National Park

3-shot HDR Rendering of Bryce Canyon National Park

Bristlecone Loop at Bryce Canyon National Park

Windowsill at Bryce Canyon National Park

Weathering Cliffs of Bryce Canyon National Park

A Fortress on the Cliff at Bryce Canyon National Park

Reflecting Sun on the Hoodoos at Bryce Canyon National Park

8-frame Panorama of Bryce Canyon National Park

As mentioned previously, the clouds from the departing storm system really made this an awesome time to visit Bryce Canyon. Because we see clouds so often, we may take them for granted most of the time. If we do actually think about them, oftentimes our thoughts will relate to impending weather. I’d like to propose that clouds can, and should, take on a more profound meaning, serving as a call to action and a reminder of a promise made. Clouds are mentioned numerous times throughout the Bible, sometimes literally and other-times metaphorically. Three of these instances I’d like to briefly call to mind.

In the Gospel of Mark, after ministering to the multitude for several days, Jesus spends a little quiet time high on a mountain with Peter, James and John. For a short while Jesus is joined by Moses and Elijah, prompting some intrepidation on the part of the disciples, when; And a cloud came and overshadowed them; and a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son. Hear Him!” (Mark 9:7). God used a cloud as a vehicle to get the attention of the believers, so they would focus, listen and hear the words of Christ.

Let’s jump ahead a little to the Book of Acts. Just to set the stage, Christ had already been crucified, risen from the dead, and was wrapping up forty days of ministering about things pertaining to the kingdom of God. Jesus shares some important final words with the Apostles, “Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight” (Acts 1:9). Again, a cloud was used as an apparent door through which Christ entered as He ascended to Heaven to join the Father.

Finally, consider what we should expect upon Christ’s return to earth, as He promised to do. “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord” (1 Thes 4:16-17). This isn’t going to be a quiet affair! Indeed, I think it is going to be a grand reunion, of sorts, where all those who have trusted in Christ Jesus will be joined together with Him. And where is the reception hall? It is in the clouds! And from that point on, we will be with the Lord always!

Putting these three sets of Scripture together, we can see the clouds as 1) a reminder to focus on Him and abide by His instruction for our lives, 2) a doorway to Heaven which Christ used when He departed, and 3) that same door is where we will enter into eternal communion with Him upon Christ’s final return. So, the next time you see some clouds and think it might rain, perhaps you’ll consider some other things that those clouds might portend!

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8 responses

  1. Stunning captures and wonderful commentary on clouds and God!

    May 16, 2012 at 7:07 am

  2. Ken, your photography is wonderful, and having been to Bryce several times, it brings the beauty of God’s creation back to my mind and my memories. Thanks so much for sharing the pictures and also the comments about the things we take for granted every day.

    May 2, 2012 at 11:41 pm

    • Thank you, Evelyn. We are truly blessed to share in the richness of His creation!

      May 3, 2012 at 10:36 pm

  3. The images are works of art in themselves, making the eyes feast upon various contours and contrasts of shapes and hues. Thank you for showcasing the clouds in the Bible, Ken, especially that these will be the portal for our “grand reunion” with the Lord. That is quite meaningful because whenever I am overwhelmed by the fleeting difficulties of our earthly existence, I look at the clouds in the sky, gain an eternal perspective on life, and somehow the burdens fade away into insignificance.

    May 1, 2012 at 11:31 am

    • Portal! That’s the word I was trying to remember while writing this message last night! Thanks so much for your commentary and perspective, Dee.

      May 1, 2012 at 2:02 pm

  4. Gorgeous pictures. What does HDR rendering do to the picture?

    Love the connection of Jesus and the clouds. One of my favorite things to do when we are out and about (and my dh is driving) is to watch sunbeams through clouds. Even so, come Lord Jesus!!

    Don’t forget the rainbow and the pillar of cloud in the past too. God certainly seems to have a thing for clouds. 🙂

    May 1, 2012 at 9:02 am

    • Thank you Cheri. HDR processing combines an image that is correctly exposed with others that are over and under exposed. The purpose is to deliver a more dynamic range of shades and colors, and is useful to bring out detail in dark regions of a scene while preventing “blowing out” the detail in the bright areas. Our eyes do this automatically, but camera metering of scenes hasn’t reached the ability of God’s creative genius!

      May 1, 2012 at 1:59 pm

      • Thanks for the explanation. I’ll have to post about the eye sometime soon!

        May 1, 2012 at 2:19 pm

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