Friday, October 28, 2011

More of the Grand Canyon

The recent trip to the Grand Canyon was scheduled for one day. Actually we had only one goal and that was to photograph sunrise and its effects up the canyon walls. We left Flagstaff at 4 a.m. to make the west end of the south rim trail and set up tripods before dawn. No place to eat was open that early and so breakfast waited until after the sun was fully up. And so did the rest of the canyon.

Don't get me wrong. The Grand Canyon is spectacular in any light especially if you have never seen it. But mid day is not great for photographers. And the vistas can get like one more flavor at Baskin-Robbins. Both my sister and I have decided on a return trip of multiple days and staying a lot closer to the focus of our attentions. We want several sunrises and sunsets and we want more days to give all the views their due.

Where we photographed dawn is one of the most visited spots. As you head east on the rim highway the canyon broadens out and the sun rises higher in the sky. My first look at the photos I took along this path did not excite me. But just a bit of tweaking on brightness/contrast brought out the colors the digital megapixels had captured. And because the canyon is wider there are less dark shadows to distract from the patterns in the landscape below you. I found myself wishing I had taken more pictures in this expanse of canyon but I was dealing with a 3:30 am wake up and sensory overload.

Looking west at the Colorado River

At this point, near desert view, the canyon seems more like a broad valley than a grand canyon. But you get a good view of the Colorado River winding its way through the softer sandstone. Further east the river is in cased in harder rock and ergo the canyon narrower. Here it gets to meander.

Looking east at the Colorado

In this view you can see Hanse Rapid. If I remember correctly, when I went down the Colorado on a raft this was the first fun rapid. It is almost a mile long and has seven holes and crests. It is like riding a roller coaster. Doesn't look like much from up here.

The colors of the Grand Canyon are all about the layers of sediment and rock laid down at the bottom of a huge inland sea. The Colorado River exposes layer after layer after the uplift of the Colorado Plateau. The canyon also changes color based on the sun and where it is the sky. Here it was almost directly overhead. There are no shadows.

Now that I have seen the Canyon in dawn and full sun I definitely want to see it at sunset and in stormy weather.

1 comment:

  1. I don't care what you thought about the photos when you first saw them, what we have here are spectacular. And I wasn't even there. The vastness and the expanse is awesome. I love the colours, the lighting - this entire collection - it's breathtaking.


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