I'm recently returned from a trip of the American south west, which included the Grand Canyon, Antelope Canyon, Monument Valley, Bryce Valley, Mesa Verde, Arches National Park and the Four Corners.
A quick narrative about shooting at the Grand Canyon, then some pictures.
1. Get out before the dawn to set up for the sunrise. Don't worry about shooting towards the sunrise; photograph the huge rock formations as they receive the morning light.
2. I use Singh Ray filters. For most of my morning shots on a Canon 5Diii, I was using a Canon 24 mm prime or a Zeiss 20 mm, with a Singh Ray Magenta filter and a Singh Ray LB polarizer, along wit ha 2 stop neutral density graduated filter to tame the brightness of the sky. These wider angled lenses worked effectively on capturing the awe inspiring majesty of the South Rim.
3. Bring a telephoto lens. Everyone tries to capture the vastness of the Canyon, which really is impossible to do. In additional to getting those wider-angled shots, consider a telephoto to capture the small details--a tiny bush growing at the tip of a rock hundreds of feet off the ground--to make your shots unique.
4. Sunset. Plan to be on one of the South Rim buses in advance of the sunset. We got the last bus out to our spot, which already had a number of people staking out prime positions. Once again, consider shooting both into the sunset (use heavier neutral density graduated filters for this, such as an ND-4) and away from the sunset to catch the red glow on the rocks.
5. Finally, once the sun sets, there is what I call the "Canyon Effect." This is a remarkable blue light that illuminates the mist forming in the lower regions where the cool air pools. The Canyon doesn't just go dark after the sun sets. There is a period of time where a blue quality light illuminates the lower portions and bowl in a most unique way. It was hard to capture, but I got it (see the last photo in this series). And stay away from edges. It's a really, really long fall to the bottom.
Chris Kiez, a hardcore photographer since the 80's, learned to take a picture before the age of selfies and cell phone photography, training on mechanical cameras and film. After years of taking photos of all manner of subjects and people, he did over a 10 year stint as a crime scene photographer on two continents. Now, he does portrait and landscape photos, and is currently distressing the world with his relentlessly, excruciatingly boring blogging. To buy what you see on this site, click here!