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 sunlight deepened the colors and created a 3-D effect as shadows lengthened behind the rock formations on the canyon’s floor.
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.
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…
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.
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!
The Big Dipper is the only one you can really see. There were so many stars, it was hard to pick out the constellations. Meteor? I wish, that was a plane.
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.
Thanks, Tom! I enjoyed how the light and shadows changed the Grand Canyon. During the day under a cloudless sky, the canyon, while still impressive, wasn’t all that photographic until the late afternoon light.
It certainly is an inspiring place!
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