Pic of the Week 7/21/16: Bright Angel Sunset Panorama
Date taken: 6/21/16
Location: Grand Canyon National Park North Rim
I have a bucket list of locations I want to photograph before I am unable to do so. During my four-day vacation last month I was able to cross some of those locations of my list. Though one in particular is something that I feel like everyone who lives in America should go see at least once in their lifetime. It is one of the seven natural wonders of the world and appropriately named. I am, of course, talking about the Grand Canyon. I have always wanted to go since I was a little kid. Being from Texas (and a very flat part of Texas) I have always been intrigued by mountains, and canyons. Now I have finally been able to cross that off my list and it truly is “grand”. The Grand Canyon is 277 miles long, up to 18 miles wide, and 6,093ft at its deepest. With such an impressive size and depth, it’s no wonder it attracts over 4.5million people each year. It was a top on my bucket list and definitely something I was planning to photograph on this trp. On the morning of June 21st I set out to find the Grand Canyon.
After a few hundred miles on the road I eventually came to highway 180 near Flagstaff and drove north on 64 to the Grand Canyon National Park Visitor Center at the South Rim. By this time the light was not so great. It was late morning and the sun was climbing higher into the sky, but I had to make the most out of every stop and I knew I wanted to be at the North Rim for sunset. I drove along highway 64 following the rim of the canyon and pulling over when I saw something worth shooting. It was actually quite intimidating trying to photograph to location. I must have used every single lens in my bag to shoot the canyon. Once satisfied I decided to make the 3hr drive to the North Rim.
North Rim is different from South Rim. North Rim is a little more isolated and not nearly as crowded, but being another 1000ft taller than South Rim makes it popular location for photographers. When I arrived at North Rim I barely had time to make the short hike to Bright Angel Point for sunset. The paths and walkways were crowded and congested with tourists looking on at the amazing vista. I hopped onto a few rocks to get away from the pathway and out of everyone’s way. I got my camera set up and took a couple of test shots figuring out my composition and deciding how I wanted to shoot the sunset. I noticed the distinct peaks jutting up from the canyon and the “saw tooth” pattern of the ridge and thought it should reflect the sunlight pretty well. I was a little concerned about the sunset, however. There was some pretty heavy cloud cover off to the south/southeast and I was worried the clouds would block out the sun and I wouldn’t get any light on the canyon. As evening approached my fears were alleviated when I looked off to the west and could see some nice clearing above the horizon. I was in position, I had the right gear and picked the composition I wanted. Now all I had to do was wait for the perfect light.
I shot dozens of pictures as the sun began to set each one a little bit better than the last. Finally, the perfect moment came and the peaks (the temples as they’re called) glowed as if on fire in the sunset light. The light started to hit the back edge of the canyon and lit it up in a thin veil of gold across the rim. I shot several exposures of my favorite composition and then I shot a panorama capturing a wider view of this dramatic scene. The panorama ended up being my favorite composition as it helped showcase the vast beauty that was around me. If you look closely you can see the silhouettes of the San Francisco peaks in the distance. This had to be one of my favorite shots during the trip and I felt like I did justice to the location and captured the unbridled beauty of one of the world’s most iconic landscapes.
Bright Angel Sunset Panorama © Ben Jacobi