Enamored by its grandeur, one can easily be seduced into composing nothing but grand scene images of Grand Canyon National Park. After all, if there was ever a place more conducive to the grand view, I haven’t found it.
Yet, after six years of seriously photographing this National Park, I have begun to discover that there are many intimate view scenes awaiting the receptive eye and demanding equal attention.
Of course, the Grand Canyon really begins to put on a show when the sun’s angle is low in the sky. The image above demonstrates that nicely as I was able to position this Juniper against the lit monument from the south rim’s Lipan Point.
While still wandering the rim, which had fallen into shadow, the breeze died and the air was calm. This Narrow Leaf Yucca caught my eye as these pealing white edges offered a bit of abstract to the dynamic lines of the plant. I decided to exclude the outside world and framed the plant only with my 70-200mmL II lens. I played with various degrees of tightness and really watched the edges for my frame. This was the image I settled upon during editing. Without the white squiggly edges, I don’t think this image succeeds. For me, they tend to bring the image to life and add a touch of dynamism to the frame!
Prior to the start of our workshops, Gary Hart and I scouted and area of the Kaibab National Forest named East View. Not only did we have a wonderful view looking east towards the Vermillion Cliffs, but the area (at almost 9,000 feet) was covered with various wildflowers. Under the soft light of the afternoon thunderstorm skies, both groups enjoyed a bevy of shooting opportunities. During our second workshop, I decided to walk the rim trail and discovered this awesome explosion of Owl’s Claws growing amongst a grove of aspens. I worked the scene with another workshop participant, John Deines, the returned to tell the group about my discovery. We decided to extend the shoot another hour to give everyone an opportunity to capture these wonderful flowers!
As the group worked the flowers, I decided to wander the rim some more and actually headed inland a bit to play with various groves of aspens. I found these young saplings bent from the weight of winter snows. Looking more like old men rather than young trees, I worked with various compositions under the soft light conditions and liked the receding line I found with this image. Even at f/16, each successive tree gradually became softer and softer as I placed my focus with a 200mm on the right foreground tree (depth-of-field is a wonderful aspect of photography)!
During our scouting trip to East View (prior to the start of the workshops), we cautiously worked under the rumble of nearby thunder. Near the parking lot, I discovered these wild daisies growing close to the base of a lone aspen. A light rain began to fall and the air was still, so I framed this scene. I used to own a 24mm tilt/shift lens and sometimes I really miss it. Back at my computer, I used the new Tilt/Shift lens filter in Photoshop CC and replicated a similar look as I felt the tree was commanding too much attention with my original settings. I love technology! Now I have a tilt/shift option with any focal length in my bag. This was my first attempt at using it so more practice will be required before I make a determination if this is a viable replacement to these expensive lenses. As for this image, I really am pleased with the results.
On our last sunset location shoot with our second workshop group, we decided to take them to the north rim’s famed Cape Royal. Many views are afforded during the quarter-mile walk out to the point and students were taking advantage. My knee, still recovering from partial replacement surgery 5 weeks prior, was begging me to stop for the day, so I decided to lighten my load and only take my tripod, camera, and my 24-70mmL Series II lens. This lens does allow for some macro focusing (not as much as a true macro lens) but enough that I could get really close to this lone Eaton’s Penstemon. The trick for me was that it required that I lay down with the new Really Right Stuff 34L Versa tripod with the legs flattened (this is why I don’t like a center post). I wanted to frame the lone Penstemon against the cacti and this was my only option.
As you can see, I made my frame, then had to figure out how in the hell I was going to get up (as my left knee was only bending about 70 degrees). My solution was to roll completely onto my stomach, then position my right leg square to my body and push up. Thankfully it worked!
I joined the rest of the group out on the point for sunset and a cool display of lightning striking across the canyon along the south rim – back to grand view shooting!
2013 Photo Workshops
2014 Photo Workshops
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