I know, I know…I haven’t done a Photograph of the Week in a long time. Everything blog-related was pretty much put on hold while I was recovering from my busted foot. Now that I can get around a little bit I feel more motivated to post AND I actually have a few things to post about. So, to kick things off again I wanted to post a collection of pictures from my recent trip to Grand Canyon National Park showing four consecutive days of Sunset in Grand Canyon.
First Sunset: Bedrock City, Arizona…
Somehow, there’s always a lot to do the day of a trip. Without fail, it seems like I’m overwhelmed with last minute random chores to get done when we are trying to get out of town. Another reason why flexibility is the overriding theme to all my travel plans. We didn’t make it all the way to the Grand Canyon on the first day and decided to stop for the night in Bedrock City just outside of Williams. This was a fun, spontaneous decision that felt much more adventurous than the local KOA. That first night we set up the teardrop, busted out the camp stove and made dinner as the sun was bearing down on the horizon. While dinner was cooking, I grabbed the camera and snapped off a few shots of the sunset.
Second Sunset: The Watchtower…
We camped at Desert View Campground, about 28 miles east of the main entrance to the park and Grand Canyon Village. After driving through the main section and seeing what kind of circus Mather Campground is I was really happy we had made the decision to check out Desert View. It’s a first-come-first-served campground so timing is key if you’re going to find a spot. We got lucky and managed to grab what I believe was the best spot in the campground. That first night in Grand Canyon we decided to check out the sunset view from The Watchtower, which is only a quarter mile or so from camp. We hiked along the rim a ways to stake out a spot away from the crowds. As sunset approached we still had a sporadic groups of tourists jockeying for a spot along the rim to snap shots of the sunset with their cell phones.
I set up on a promontory that got me out enough to be able to shoot the sunset without the tourists in the frame (I know, I keep saying “tourist” like I wasn’t one…hehe). We waited…and waited…I was looking for a nice show. There were nice clouds in the sky, the canyon was clear, visibility was great…we just needed the light to break through. It never really happened. That first night was a bust and the sunset fizzled out like a match that burned itself out. The images for that night were more moody, with subtle light in the clouds and a misty stacked silhouette of purple canyon walls.
Third Sunset: Return to The Watchtower…
We tried to take it easy for the second day in the canyon, I didn’t want to overwork my busted foot since I was just getting used to walking again. We got up early that day and got to shoot the sunrise at from the cliffs at Desert View just a short walk from camp. That night I wanted to get back to The Watchtower for sunset, I felt robbed the night before. It is a great vantage point and the canyon view from there made for great photos but the show the night before was weak. I wanted another shot at it and the sky was shaping up to have a lot of potential.
We came out a little later than the night before, it had been cold and windy the first night and we waited for a long time with nothing much to show for it. Arriving later meant I lost my spot though, as it had been taken over by a large group of Asian tourists. We hiked further down the trail looking for a quiet spot to set up and found a great little overlook. That night the sun cooperated and gave us a little more of the display I was looking for. My expectations were high, so even with a “nice” sunset I felt like the canyon was holding back. We would have one more shot after this, but I was still happy with at least a couple of the sunset images we got that night. My wife was shooting the D70s with the 24-105 lens and had much better luck since she could get in tighter on the scene we had that night.
Last Sunset: ShoShone Point…
We got the inside scoop about Shoshone Point from one of the Park Rangers working at The Watchtower. He gave us clear directions and told us it was the perfect short, easy hike that I could do with my limited mobility and would give us a stellar view of The Canyon for sunset. He added that Shoshone Point is one of his personal favorite vantage points on the South Rim and it is never crowded. Sounded like the perfect spot! What he didn’t tell us is that the location is available for events and we got there just as a full blown wedding was wrapping up. The bridal party had taken over the point for wedding photos!
Luckily they wrapped up before sunset and everyone headed out leaving the point to Merelyn and I. Shortly after that we were joined by an eccentric local photographer that seemed to be happy to have some folks to talk to. We sat and waited. Things were shaping up nicely but you never know, the clouds move one way or another and can blow the whole thing. Then the show started and for the next 40 minutes or so I hopped and shuffled all over the point shooting the changes in The Canyon as the light moved. The sun cast intense rays across The Canyon catching corners and edges and making for some dramatic shooting. I shot with the wide-angle and my wife shot with the 24-105 and we both captured some great stuff.
When the Sun finally did drop behind the cliff the color in the sky changed completely and I dropped the exposure a little. I had promised Merelyn we wouldn’t stay too long so we wouldn’t be hiking back to the truck in the dark, but I couldn’t leave the sunset before it was done and it had more story to tell. Our photographer friend was there to the bitter end shooting a time-lapse of the sunset, so as the last of the viable shots for me slipped away we said goodbye and headed back down the dark trail to the truck. Luckily it wasn’t much of a hike back and we did just fine.
Prints of any of these shots and more from my Grand Canyon trip can be ordered from the Wilderness Dave Photography Gallery site.