As children, we all learn about the great National Parks in America and many of you readers have had the great fortune to travel to many throughout the United States. Though I have had the opportunity to bring guests to both Mt. Rainier National Park and Olympic National Park in Washington State, I have never been to the crown jewels of both Yellowstone and Grand Canyon. Earlier this year I took some time to finally see these magnificent parks, starting with the Grand Canyon.
I was in Arizona staying with my friend Tracy as she got settled into her new home and a mutual friend of ours, asked if I would like to head up to the Grand Canyon and spend a few days? “Oh would I, I have never been” I told Brian and with that, a few days later we were off as we headed down the highway.
I will have to admit when we arrived at the south entrance, I was a bit like a little child, I could not wait to get out of the vehicle and head over to the rim and of course, I was not disappointed at all. What a beautiful expanse and if you have never been, you need to add it to your list to visit. The only thing I could really compare it within my travels was the Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania, a collapsed caldera that has an expansive view, but nothing like the Grand Canyon.
Brian and I were there for a few hours and I’m not sure who suggested it, but we decided we needed to come back and watch the sunrise the next day.
We were a good hour away from where we were camping at the KOA campground, so we had to get up super early if we wanted to catch the morning sun. The clouds were not cooperating very well, but I did manage to get somewhat of a timelapse video a bit after the sun came up, just click on the image below to see.
I shot quite a few images from these two days, but about a month later when I was leaving Arizona to head home, I decided I need to stop again and sunset photos were on the agenda.
I spent quite a bit of time just getting some great shots, using different lenses, tripods and all kinds of different settings as I knew I would not likely be back any time soon. The B&W above was one I was really thrilled with and I used the old standby “Rule of Thirds” to place the tree in the right location of the frame. Also not putting the horizon in the exact middle of the frame to help give some balance and add some negative space to the image.
I arrived at the rim around 4 PM and it was pretty crowded, but I had no idea how crowded it would get by sunset and I was thankful that I took my position where I could get the best shot and patiently waited. I watched as some young kids in flip flops walked along the edge of the rim and all I thought of was one slip and they would fall at least 1,000 feet as they tried to get the perfect selfies. I had staked out the position in the above photo, wanting to get some of the rocks in the foreground and frame the sunset with the rocks on the right. But as more and more people came to the same location, I knew the exact shot I had patiently waited for was not going to happen, there would be people in the foreground.
But sometimes life allows you to make lemonade out of lemons and just to my left, there was a girl sitting on a rock by herself. I quickly pulled the camera off the tripod, set the aperture to f/22 (This created the sunburst as the light spills through the aperture blades) and boosted the ISO a bit and was able to get this handheld shot with perfect framing, sunburst and my day was complete.
But my time was not complete at the Grand Canyon. That night I went back to the hotel room and I thought it would be a fantastic idea to take a helicopter ride around the canyon. I had never been in a helicopter in my life and what better place to experience one than at the Grand Canyon.
I have to say this was quite a thrill and though it was a luxury for sure, I don’t think I’ll ever regret taking this ride. Perhaps the next time I’ll take a ride where they land in the canyon and serve you a lunch.