Wintry Grand Canyon Sunrise

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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.

Shot with:
Nikon D7100
Sigma 8-16mm

The Mittens of Monument Valley

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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…….
Equipment:
Nikon D7100
Sigma 8-16mm
Tamron 70-200mm G2

Good Morning SFO

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Nikon D7100, Tamron 70-200mm G2; 70mm, ISO 100, f/16, 1/13s

The last time – also the first time – I found my way to San Francisco, pretty much three years ago exactly this day – it was hell on earth. Torrential rain. Non-stop.

Swore to myself to come back one day and shoot the city in better light. So, here I am, right now for roughly three days.

Jet-lagged, waking up early in the morning, I wanted to make best use of this. So I went out to a local park – Corona Hights – where, so I heard, the view of the city was supposed to be spectacular.

No disappointment upon arrival. Right in the time for sunrise, I got the shot envisaged for quite some time. The sun rising quickly over the mountain range in the back, a perfect orange hue illuminating the sky – simply perfect.