A final photograph for 2018, and a final one from my recent trip to Arizona and the Grand Canyon – a day long hike along the Bright Angel Trail led to this panorama of the Colorado River.
Standing on the edge of Plateau Point, nearly one thousand metres below the Grand Canyon South Rim, a drop of 1,300 feet beckons with another step forward…
Getting up when it’s still dark and – quite frankly – bloody freezing – is never easy. But we photographers know the rewards can be rich for making the effort.
Certainly I was hoping for a grand sunrise over the Grand Canyon when driving down the few miles from my Lodge to Navajo Point – the highest point on the South Rim – a whopping 2.275m above sea level!
The sky was still dark, crystal clear and only the stars shining brightly when I set out at quarter past six. The air chilly, I knew even the thickest of gloves wouldn’t be good enough to protect my hands of turning stiff and numb, when standing exposed to the wind, fiddling with camera settings and tripod.
I found my spot on the edge of a huge stone that extended a metre or so beyond the Canyon Wall of the Rim. I didn’t quite move to the edge… too afraid of stumbling!
It was to be the place for another nearly two hours…. at temperatures around minus 9 degrees initially (kindly dropping to more balmy minus five after sunrise)
As I took my first shots, going as wide as possible – 8mm – the sky looked simply fantastic. Hues of violet, red and orange…. beautiful!
Unfortunately, the “grand sunrise” never materialized. Slowly but steadily, the light got flatter, the colours washed out – it was to be an overcast day!
Well, thankfully I was early there to capture the beautiful scene before the actual sunrise, which resulted in the image accompanying this article. In truth, I couldn’t have asked for a more wonderful sunrise image of the Grand Canyon. It was well worth the early start and the freezing. Those moments, though – the raw nature, the scale of the landscape, the camera and yourself – there is something special about it.
In order to get maximum colour depth from a scene that had different light all over, I shot this is an HDR and used Lightroom in post for the HDR part.
Unsure what to expect, I planned only one full day in Monument Valley. Little did I know, indeed!
The overwhelming beauty, grace and magic of this landscape blew my mind – this stretch of planet Earth is something hard to describe in words, and certainly no photograph will ever do it justice. It’s got to be experienced by oneself!
Snow fell in the Valley the days before I arrived; covering parts of the red desert ground and the Mitten Buttes in deliciously fine white powder. Arctic temperatures… a result of the winter not making an exception for an area that only a few weeks ago was still piping hot as warning signs reminding hikers to take plenty of water on board during their travels.
Depending on what directions one looks, rock formations, size but also light and atmosphere changing dramatically. Snow covered peaks to one side; planet Mars-like landscapes the other way.
Photography-wise Monument Valley, but particularly The Mittens, present a riches of subjects to explore; so many different scenes want be captured – but nothing compares to the sunrise, when those first precious rays find their way over the massive stone walls, illuminating the valley in warm, golden light.
There’s this one world famous view everyone will have in some form or another; and if only in a Hollywood movie that gives the place its name: Forrest Gump Point. A particular delicious panoramic view with Route-63 leading right into it…. a place synonymous with selfie sticks these days.
I don’t own a selfie stick and wasn’t after the “money shot”. Rather, the setting sun, provided the perfect backdrop to create a powerful silhouette of the Mittens – the imagine I probably most love of all the ones I got during my time in Monument Valley.
Tamron 70-200mm G2
Nikon D7100, Sigma 8-16mm, f/4.5-5.6; ISO 250, 8mm, f/16, 3sec
8mm, ISO 100, f/8, 1/100s – Nikon D7100, Sigma 8-16mm
It looked simple enough on the map. The reality was steep. And windy. At least not rainy. That was for later. Hiking up to the Djouce Mountain in the Wicklow’s isn’t a big deal, though the last bit is steep enough for untrained legs.
Add some high winds and it makes for a stern test on a weekend’s afternoon. It was too windy up there and the looming rain clouds made sure I only stayed for a brief period until making my way down again.
Light was sparse, though the shapes of the different mountains, hills, the wide panoramic view of the Irish coastline makes for an image where you can’t do much wrong.
The wonderful 8-16mm from Sigma in the back delivered once more. I wanted to capture the atmosphere felt on the mountain in a wide panorama to show the contrasts of the scene. It’s not the most special image I’ve ever taken. Still, It was worth to get out there and take it.