Grand Canyon Photo Hunt

Laura

freespirittraveler
Joined
Oct 1, 2012
Messages
957
I just got back from the Grand Canyon and as usual, I'm still not sure, 2 days later, if I got any good photos. I hadn't planned to post anything or make a report but I just read @Nick's post to @Miss Buffalo, saying all that was needed was a photo and a paragraph, so I said what the hell. I said what the hell a lot on this trip. The adventurers among you will be bored to tears by this report, but I'd really appreciate any and all feedback on the photos. Photography trips leave me feeling like I've had an affair-I wind up emotionally spent, wondering what the hell I just did and if anything good came out of it. *ahem* not that I have affairs or anything….

The trip started, like they all do, with a wild hair. I saw on the Photographer's Ephemeris that the full moon would be setting over the Colorado River from Lipan Point on February 14, so I had to be there. I was hoping for snow, and for the third year in a row I got record high temperatures. Geez, do I have bad luck or what? This time I planned for it and brought hiking stuff as well. I also decided to stay at the Grand Canyon for 5 days. Usually on photography trips I jump around from place to place, which is the last thing you should do, and I decided to try scouting the various locations to see check out the light, comps, etc. and see what I get.

I started with 2 days in Zion, hoping for storms but they didn't come. The light was nice so I stopped by the side of the road whenever I felt like it.

Reeds blowing by the side of the road, Hwy 89
Reeds Blowing.jpg


Buffalo fight at the ranch near Zion
Buffalo fight.jpg


I'm watching the weather and the forecast for the Grand Canyon just keeps getting hotter-geez, I left San Diego for this? When I get there I don't even see any clouds! I take a few lackluster shots, and plan on hiking. A LOT. I've never hiked in the canyon so this will be a first. I spend the next sunset and sunrise scouting and get nothing, but at least I'm not moving on to the next location so now I can predict where the good light might be. I did catch a shot of a man meditating by the canyon. He came with 2 companions, and when he looked out he sat down and meditated for about 15 minutes, seeming completely at peace. I discreetly took shots with a telephoto lens so I wouldn't disturb him. For some reason I felt privileged to witness his connection with the Universe, and appreciated his respect for the mystical landscape:

Meditation close up.jpg




The next morning I wake up with a terrible headache, from an old triathlon injury that gets aggravated by carrying a backpack. The sunrise sucks and I wonder why I'm here. I decide to skip photography and hike the South Kaibab trail, hoping I get something out of this trip. I leave my heavy camera in the car, drag my @$$ to the shuttle, and start down the trail, my headache so bad I'm nauseated. Someone on here has a quote from Edward Abbey about how we need wild places, and at this point I lived that quote *cue heaven rays coming down*. The cold air on my head eased my headache, and I descended into the canyon for the first time. I'd planned on just getting to Ooh Aah Point and seeing how I felt, but as I went deeper and deeper I just became overwhelmed with how beautiful it was. I felt more alive than I ever had in my life. The wind was blowing and I just wanted to go farther and farther, so I did. My headache was gone, and I was part of an ancient landscape miles from where I usually reside. I went a few more miles, loving each one more than the next. I really wanted to go to the river but there are signs all over warning you not to do this in one day, and how hard the hike out is, how people die every year doing this, blah blah blah so I decided not to overestimate myself. Mistake! I actually hiked out faster than I hiked in, the weather was about 60 degrees, and I had water. Even though I didn't get to the river, I was completely invigorated. I am coming back and I am going to go all the way next time!

I decided to check out Lipan Point in preparation for my moonshot and see where the light fell. Got my first decent shot (I think):

Under a Pink Sky
Pink Canyon.jpg


The next morning I wake at 4:00 a.m. to check out dawn at Lipan Point and observe the light. There weren't many clouds and the canyon was hazy, but the textures of the canyon were fantastic:

Wide Angle Dawn.jpg


Dawn on the Plateau
Dawn on the Plateau.jpg



Dawn Textures
Dawn Textures.jpg


I really wasn't happy with anything I got, so I went hiking again, resolving to come back later. I'd noticed some amazing pink light from the east each night, so I decided to look for a viewpoint that faced east-maybe that would capture it. The day was overcast with flat light, and I was really discouraged for the sunset. I decided to try Grandview Point. I sat in my car, totally unmotivated. After 45 minutes a little bit of light came through on the peaks, so a got out and set up my gear, waiting in the flat light and cold wind. I almost left, but something told me to stay. I've seen flat light explode in color before, so I might as well stay. The sun set, a little light started to glow on the horizon, and I had a hunch the big gray cloud overhead might light up. Sure enough, all of a sudden the sky turned pink and orange, and the canyon was bathed in the most heavenly light I've ever seen. I took photo after photo, trying to do it justice but knowing I never could. There were times when I stopped shooting and just stood there in awe of the beauty. Here's where I need feedback everyone. For the next 5 shots, I'm posting them

in the order they were shot so you can see the progression of light, but I really can't tell which ones work and which don't. I'm still too close to the experience to judge. The hardest thing is trying to balance the color in the sky and get enough of the canyon without splitting the shot (which I did a few times). The problem with Grand Canyon sunset shots is you're looking down into the canyon while the sunset is up. In retrospect, I probably should have gone farther down the icy trail to get more of an upward viewpoint, but here's what I got:

Early Sunset, the color explosion

Early Sunset, Grandview.jpg


A longer view


Tonight\'s Sunset 2.jpg


Closer view with the river, losing some sky
Tonight\'s Sunset w-river.jpg


More Canyon, Less Sky
More Canyon, less sky.jpg

Fading light, longer view
Tonight\'s Sunset w-cloud 2.jpg

Just a note, there is almost no processing on these photos. I lightened the foreground on a few to bring out the textures, but the sky is straight out of the camera.


As the color faded the pink light lingered on the peaks, so I took some long exposure shots.

The Afterglow
Longer Afterglow_.jpg


And on that note, I decided to leave early. The next day was the start of the holiday weekend and I just couldn't face the crowds. I was on such a high after witnessing that sunset that I knew nothing would compare anyway.

Oh yes, none of the moonlight shots turned out that well, too much contrast. But I did get one I kind of like:

Lipan Point by Moonlight
Lipan by Moonlight.jpg


Thanks for hanging with me, I'm looking forward to your feedback. Be honest, I can take it!

Featured image for home page:
slide.jpg
 
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Yvonne

I lava it!!!
Joined
Jan 19, 2012
Messages
3,720
You got some awesome shots, @Laura !!
Great details of the canyon and its layers.
So far I have neglected Grand Canyon a lot. I would love to see it someday in the future
It seems there weren't many people there during your visit?
 

powderglut

In search of Fresh
Joined
Oct 17, 2012
Messages
367
Thanks for bringing back the colors, depth and texture of the Grand Canyon. Haven't seen it in a while. Bueno!!!
 

Laura

freespirittraveler
Joined
Oct 1, 2012
Messages
957
You got some awesome shots, @Laura !!
Great details of the canyon and its layers.
So far I have neglected Grand Canyon a lot. I would love to see it someday in the future
It seems there weren't many people there during your visit?
 

DrNed

The mountains are calling and I must go
.
Joined
Mar 31, 2013
Messages
1,016
Apparently, when you and I wonder if we've gotten any photos it means drasticly different things . . . I'm just hoping I don't have a finger in the picture and that the really cool rock I took a picture of translates in a photo (it usually does't).So, needless to say, I think you're photos are awesome! I love how you were able to bring to life the colors of the canyon and the sky.
 

Nick

-
.
Joined
Aug 9, 2007
Messages
12,938
Yep. Only a serious photographer could ever look at this set and wonder if they got any good ones. I'm not much into critiquing, but that moon shot seemed like a daytime shot when I first saw it. Was it actually dark for that or was that like as the sky was lightening up? Regardless, you have some beautiful shots here! Thanks for posting!

I hadn't planned to post anything or make a report but I just read @Nick's post to @Miss Buffalo, saying all that was needed was a photo and a paragraph, so I said what the hell.

Hahaha! This is awesome. I'm going to have to complain about people not posting enough trip reports more often! :)
 

John Fowler

Member
Joined
Jan 17, 2012
Messages
217
You got some fine scenes and great light. And I like the first one too, of the reeds. that's a really nice one. But, as you said, you never know until days later if any of them are any good. Sometimes I'll look mine over after a year has passed and find images that I like much better than my initial favorites.
 

DJ&Jules

New Member
Joined
May 20, 2013
Messages
4
I'm chiming in to say I think you have some great shots...this is coming from someone who just learned how to shot on manual mode...so don't give me too much credit.
I LOVE your sunset photos. #2 or the one featured as home page image is wonderful! It is very similar to #5, just the oranges vs the pinks. Both show great depth and are well composed.
I was also drawn in by your reeds shot. I can see you do know what you are doing....I so need to learn.
We are our hardest critics....ease up a little and find your zen. :)
 

Laura

freespirittraveler
Joined
Oct 1, 2012
Messages
957
You got some awesome shots, @Laura !!
Great details of the canyon and its layers.
So far I have neglected Grand Canyon a lot. I would love to see it someday in the future
It seems there weren't many people there during your visit?

You MUST see it Yvonne! I avoided it for a long time because it's so touristy, but even tourists can't detract from it's majesty. And you have to hike down into it-it will come alive! Hiking into the canyon was so amazing that I changed my avatar to show one from that day-I can't remember a day when I was more exhilarated! Unfortunately there were a lot of tourists there last week because the weather was so warm. Most are polite but I had a few aggravating encounters (while I was shooting that amazing sunset 3 drunk kids from Spain (I think) were stumbling around the trail and shrieking). I realized the 3 day holiday weekend would bring people in droves so I took off a day early. It's best to go in snowy weather-no one is there!
 
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Laura

freespirittraveler
Joined
Oct 1, 2012
Messages
957
Yep. Only a serious photographer could ever look at this set and wonder if they got any good ones. I'm not much into critiquing, but that moon shot seemed like a daytime shot when I first saw it. Was it actually dark for that or was that like as the sky was lightening up? Regardless, you have some beautiful shots here! Thanks for posting!



Hahaha! This is awesome. I'm going to have to complain about people not posting enough trip reports more often! :)

Critiques are what I'm looking for-that's how you get better! That shot was very contrasty so I had to lighten the foreground and darken the skies to balance it and get it to what it looked like when I was there. Maybe I lightened it up too much. It was pretty light out when I took it (it was taken about 6:40 a.m.), and it was light enough to see around me and read my camera settings without a flashlight.
 

Laura

freespirittraveler
Joined
Oct 1, 2012
Messages
957
I'm chiming in to say I think you have some great shots...this is coming from someone who just learned how to shot on manual mode...so don't give me too much credit.
I LOVE your sunset photos. #2 or the one featured as home page image is wonderful! It is very similar to #5, just the oranges vs the pinks. Both show great depth and are well composed.
I was also drawn in by your reeds shot. I can see you do know what you are doing....I so need to learn.
We are our hardest critics....ease up a little and find your zen. :)

Thank you! I think #2 might be the best, but I found another that works, too that I overlooked. Find your zen, yes! That reminds me of an article I meant to post. Before I left for my trip this was published on Outdoor Photographer and it's probably the best article on shooting I've ever read:

http://www.outdoorphotographer.com/...k&utm_medium=status&utm_campaign=fb_020314_01
 
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