"Waiting for the Sun" - Grand Canyon, AZ
This particular day started out lucky; pulling up to the Desert View entrance ranger post and reaching for my ATM card, I was informed that it was a national park "Free Admission Day", so "Thank you, sir" and off to a good start.
After spending the day just wandering around and shooting a few different locations (a couple I've already posted), I decided to head over to the main Canyon Village for a break and an early dinner, leaving plenty of time to find a good location for sunset. My preferred spot was going to be Yaki Point, but the road into there was closed for some reason; if I had been able to scout a likely shot earlier in the day I would probably have hiked it, but without that very specific plan I wasn't willing to spend the time and effort; I settled for searching out this promising little outcropping not far from the main road. The afternoon had developed quite a bit of cloud cover, but it tends to break up as the sun goes down and there was already a pretty steady opening down near the western horizon which was obviously going to light up at some point, so with nearly two hours until sunset, I had plenty of time to line up a shot and settle in on the edge wearing my sweatshirt (after 100° days previously on the trip) and ponder the immense beauty of the canyon.
The key thing with nature photography sometimes just boils down to patience.. you can make do with what nature offers you at any given time, or you can try to anticipate a much better situation that will turn the ordinary into the extraordinary. Here, I had the time to wait... and the reasonable expectation of something worth waiting for, so I determined to stick it out no matter what.
The "2 for 1" part of the story is that I was able to set up two different and distinct shots from the very same tripod position, just 180° apart. This one, directly at the setting sun, the other back towards the east catching the (hopefully) sunlit canyon walls under a stormy sky.. I'll cover that one next week. A very high contrast situation, so 3 bracketed RAW exposures were necessary to capture the entire range, blended together and then processed as normal from there.
Be sure to check out more interesting skys from all over the world at the Skywatch home page.
You only get one sunrise and one sunset a day, and you only get so many days on the planet. A good photographer does the math and doesn't waste either.
- Galen Rowell