Sunset at the Grand Canyon

My wife and I had visited a few locations around the Grand Canyon National Park in search of a place to photograph the sunset on this day.  After walking the Rim Trail from Mather Point to Yavapai Point and a little beyond, we decided a point south of the Yavapai Geology Museum would be the place.  Setting up 90 minutes before sunset, the location was confirmed as a guide stopped with a group and told them this was one of the best places around the South Rim to watch the Sun set.

Why did I set up so early?  For a couple of reasons.  The first was I knew there would be lots of people showing up later and I wanted to stake out an area for my tripod.  The second was we wanted to spend some time enjoying the Grand Canyon. We listened to the wind, breathed the air, watched birds soar along the rim and became very thankful the United States was willing to protect the Grand Canyon as far back as 1893 before making it a National Park in 1919.

With the day being a cloudless blue sky, I knew the real show would not be in watching the Sun.  It would be in watching the golden light of the sunset bath the canyon walls and mesas.

The Sun bathing the Grand Canyon in golden light on September 25, 2013 at 5:49PM.

The Sun bathing the Grand Canyon in golden light from Yavapai Point on September 25, 2013 at 5:49PM in Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona.
Nikon D7100/28-300VR, 1/125s, f/16, ISO 200, EV 0, 85mm focal length.

The sunlight deepened the colors and created a 3-D effect as shadows lengthened behind the rock formations on the canyon’s floor.

Sunset light painting the walls and mesas from Yavapai Point in Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona.

Sunset light painting the walls and mesas from Yavapai Point at Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/125s, f/16, ISO 500, EV 0, 116mm focal length.

Photographing the transformation from the flat looking day time landscape to a dramatic symphony of color, light and shadow as the Sun moved closer to the horizon, I found the telephoto lens showed it best.  The camera and lens worked in concert to pull out details in the rock formations and capturing how the shadows added depth, texture and interest to the geologic formations.

Sunset light baths the canyon as seen from Yavapai Point at Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona.

Sunset light baths the canyon as seen from Yavapai Point at Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona.
Nikon D700/28-300VR, 1/125s, f/16, ISO 1400, EV 0, 300mm focal length.

More and more, the people watching the Sun turned their heads and saw what we were seeing.  We heard gasps and conversation telling others to look in the canyon. There, they would really see and start to understand why the Grand Canyon is one of the natural wonders of the world.  It is not only for its size but for its awe inspiring grandeur.

I found only one thing better than watching the sunset light at the Grand Canyon…

The night sky above the Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona.

The night sky above the Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona.
Nikon D700/Tokina 11-16mm, 30s, f/4, ISO 3200, EV 0, 16mm focal length, tripod.

Seeing the night sky above the Grand Canyon was a spiritual experience in and of itself.

Being from the light polluted northeastern United States, the night sky at the Grand Canyon was overwhelmingly stellar.  I now understand how photographers can capture the Milky Way once you remove most of the light Man produces.  I will have more on photographing starscapes later this year.

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7 Responses to Sunset at the Grand Canyon

  1. Dave Kliment says:

    Nice work Scott! I especially like how the Big Dipper is sitting on the canyon wall on that last one. And its very modest of you not to even mention the meteor you caught there!

    Like

  2. Tom Bricker says:

    Scott – the depth these shots have as a result of the late afternoon shadows is great. Really excellent work here. I especially love the third (almost abstract!) shot.

    Like

  3. montucky says:

    It certainly is an inspiring place!

    Like

  4. Pingback: View 344: Three National Parks Revisited | Views Infinitum

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