Late January, 2017
You could literally spend a life time photographing the Grand Canyon. The depth of the gorge, layered geology and ever changing weather patterns will simply overwhelm your senses. Dedicated landscape photographers are continually challenged with “timing” this location to capture the image they envision. We decided to focus on the south rim in late January with the hope that a fresh snowfall would add an element of character to the locations we planned to visit. Our objective was to take advantage of early morning and late evening light and deal with whatever the weather threw at us midday. Fortunately our arrival coincided with the tail-end of one of the worst storms the area had experienced in years. This made driving conditions and foot access to the view points somewhat hazardous as the snow was deep and the temperatures well below zero. Most viewpoints required crampons as the foot paths were well packed with hidden patches of solid ice. However, the pristine snow coating the south rim created a dramatic winter atmosphere that left us breathless. The early morning and late evening light created a glow on the rim with the opportunity to capture the blues and reds cast by the “earth’s shadow.” Our favorite morning and evening locations were Mojave and Lipan Points respectively. On several days the clear skies made photography difficult without clouds to add some character and depth to compositions. However, other opportunities abound with panoramas, ice cycle formations and telephoto close-ups of canyon geology where shadows help define the curves and diagonals above the Colorado River. It’s a must location that certainly demands many return visits. A good bet is late August during the “monsoon” season when summer storms bring lightening to the canyon, creating new and exciting opportunities.
On our way home we revisited the slot canyons near Page. What a disappointment. The caverns had certainly deteriorated from their former pristine condition. Many rock edges were broken and the vertical surfaces streaked with water marks and eroding sand. The ledges were also littered with dirt and bird guano, making it virtually impossible to hone in on decent compositions that are typical of the well published canyon abstracts. In our opinion, both Antelope Canyon’s are well beyond their prime as time and the incredible volume of tourists crammed through their narrow paths has taken its toll. We would recommend a miss but if you pathologically feel the need to experience the caverns, prepare for a tough photography outing.