Bryce Canyon National Park is famed for its numerous stone columns, called hoodoos. Less well known is that Bryce Canyon produces many phantom images, apparently the result of light and shadows. Those phantom images are not permanent. If you find one, you probably will never see it again in your later visits. Some phantom images just disappears by changing the viewing angle, but some are more durable. The place within Bryce Canyon that produces more fantastic phantom images is called “Fairy Land”. It is a much smaller area than the main amphitheater, and hoodoos there are much less orderly than the ones in the main amphitheater. The main amphitheater, though still produce some phantom images, their number is far fewer and the qualities inferior than the ones from Fairy Land.
The pictures of phantom images listed here are all taken from the still picture mode of a palm camcorder made by Panasonic (SDR-S7p). This camcorder is a Standard Definition machine, so its still picture mode has a resolution of 640 x 480 pixels. The camcorder has a lens with 10x zoom range. The pictures are only “sharpened” by the open source photo editing software GIMPS, and nothing else have been done on them.
A map to show the location of "Fairy Land"
and the main amphitheater of Bryce Canyon.
Picture 1In this picture there are numerous phantom images.
At positions, A1, A2, and A3 there are three stones respectively.
One may find that those three stones resemble some thing, but those
imagined shapes are not what we call "phantom images". Please look
closely at the position Aa, just at the right of A1. There is a side
portrait of a man with bushy hair, slight bear, a crooked nose and
wears a white hat like the one Pope usually wears. That side portrait
cannot be made by one stone; it is the result of light and shadow at
that moment. That is an example of a "phantom image" created at "Fairy Land".
Looking at the position Bb, there is a phantom image of a boy, two arms up
dangling from the cliff. The image is about one-sixth of the height of the
whole picture. At the position Cc, there is a round head that may be called a
"Pumpkin Head", and at the position Dd, a face with two big eyes popping out.
In a less impressive mode, at Ee there is a long female face, and at Ab some
may claim to see a shape of a Poodle.
Picture 1(a)This picture was taken from a slightly different angle from Picture 1.
Three stones, A1, A2, and A3 are, of course, still there. The side portrait
of a man at the right of A1 in the previous picture is gone. Instead another
face of a man at the left of A1, still labeled as Aa in this picture, has
appeared. At the position Bb, the phantom image of the "dangling boy" has
disappeared, though we can still make out where one arm and one leg in the
previous picture are located.
The "Pumpkin Head" at Cd, the face with two popping out eyes at Dd, the long face
of a woman at Ee are still there. The shape of the Poodle now has shifted
toward the left of Ab.
Picture 2This is another interesting picture taken at Fairy Land. At position Aa, an old
man with white hair, white bear and something on his head, is sitting on a chair.
Now at the position Bb, what do we see? A short hair beauty with something
around her lips. We would like to point out the bright twin columns at the
position Cc that will serve as a land mark later on. Of course, there is a
whitish face lying near the foot of the left column.
Picture 2aThis picture was taken by walking toward left from the scene of Picture 2. The old
man on a chair is now out of the picture, and the short hair beauty is now at the
right portion of the picture. Let us concentrate on the relative position of the
short hair beauty with respect to the crack on the wall and to the bright twin
columns on the back ground. The position of the short hair beauty has shifted slightly
toward the left with respect to the crack on the wall, indicating that the image was located some distance behind the wall. However, the image of the short hair beauty
has not changed position with regard to the twin columns. This implies that the image
is formed not very away from the twin columns. Also it is interesting to note that
at the left hand edge, the side portrait of the bushy hair man, discussed in Picture 1
is visible again. This image of the short hair beauty has appeared in more pictures
at varying positions in the frame, but are not shown here.
Picture 2bThe setting of Fairy Land is as follows: Viewers are looking toward east into the
the valley that is much smaller in size than the main amphitheater of Bryce Canyon
National Park. The pictures from 1 to 2a that have been discussed so far were all
taken around 7:45 pm on a clear day in the middle of October when the sun was about
to set behind the hill at the back of the viewing point. Under such a lighting condition,
the images on the poor resolution LCD screen of the Panasonic pocket camcorder
were barely visible. Thus the pictures posted so far were not composed, but just
random shots. The phantom images were all uncovered after wards when the pictures
Many years ago when we visited Fairy Land at the middle afternoon of a summer day,
two members of our party saw, with naked eyes, an elaborate picture of a little
ballerina making the curtain call. After touring the main amphitheater on the way out,
we revisited Fairy Land, but the little ballerina was gone. At a few successive
visits to Bryce Canyon National Park, we always dropped by Fairy Land trying to
find the little ballerina agian, but to no avail. That time equipped with a digital
camcorder, many pictures were taken randomly with the hope to find the little
ballerina, but instead many other phantom images have been found as reported here.
The next morning after watching the sun rise at Bryce Point at the ridge of the
main amphitheater, we stopped at Fairy land again and took some pictures. That time
the camera was directly facing the eastern sun, nothing spectacular was expeced.
However, Picture 2b as posted at the right reveals interesting aspects. The scene
in the picture is clearly comparable with the scene in Picture 2. At the position Cc,
the tall stone column is without any doubt the old man on the the chair in Picture 2.
In the washed out portion by sun light, we can still trace out a dim contour of
the face of the old man.
The wall at the fore front is exactly the wall where the "Short Hair Beauty" is
lurking out in Picture 2. At the position Aa we can even identify the crack on
the wall to pin point the exact position of the image of "Short Hair Beauty". At Bb
the twin column from Picture 2 are there, and at its foothill there extends another
distant wall. The image of "Short Hair Beauty" was created by the projection of light
on this distant wall. Some bush visible at the corner of the wall and the nearby
stone must be the thing that obscure the lip of "Short Hair Beauty".
Photo 3At the position Aa near the left edge of the picture, there is some one with a long
nose looking into some thing behind the wall. The wall is exactly the same wall
above which the "Short Hair Beauty" appeared in Picture 2. However, in Picture 2
this little detective is not visible. Only when zoomed in, he becomes visible in
this picture. What is the detective nosing about? Some bones behind the wall?
Photo 4This picture is deliberately over sharpened. At the position Aa, there is a hiker.
The hiker wears a hat and carries a stick. The size of the hiker is as large as a
Photo 5At the upper left corner of the picture, there are three little ones playing on
the top of a cliff.
Photo 6Near the upper edge of the picture there is a bright image. Some sees an angel, and
others see as an owl. What is your interpretation?
Photo 7At the left portion of the picture, there is a bright image of a fellow sitting on
something. What is he doing? Playing piano?
Photo 8From this picture and below, they were taken from the main amphitheater, not at
Fairy Land. The character of the images has changed from the ones from Fairy
Land. The images from the main amphitheater are mostly due to the light shining on
stone columns, so are more durable than the phantom images from Fairy Land.
This picture and many below were taken at Sunset Point around the sun set time.
At the right portion of the picture, there stands an old man of bold head and white
bear. The old man carries the head of a monster. At the left portion of the
picture, there is a warrior with an animal head, carrying a long stick.
Photo 9There stands a fairy king with a bear at one side and a character like
"Woody Woodpecker" at the other side. Toward the left portion of the
picture, there sits a big fat one, either a bear or a lion.
Photo 10Here comes a float in a parade, with a Collie at the rear.
Photo 11A marble statue of an old bald man with bear. This figure should be there all the
Photo 12This picture was taken the following morning at the sun rise time at Bryce Point.
I call this picture "The March".