Wednesday, November 17, 2010


The last night of my trip to Utah I ventured into the Grand Canyon area to a remote location called Toroweap. It is a 61 mile drive on a dirt road, which gets very muddy and slippery with even the slightest amount of rain. I learned this as I had to abandon my car about halfway in and catch a ride in an FJ Cruiser the rest of the way. The satellite suggested that the rain would subside around 3pm, which is did, and I had my fingers crossed for a nice sunset. I took about an hours worth of scouting shots, had a nice dinner, and set up my tripod facing west as that appeared to be where the sunset light would be best. Toroweap has sweeping views of the Grand Canyon and Colorado River below, and is a stressful experience to photograph for someone like me who is afraid of heights, as the compositions require setting up a tripod just a few feet from the edge, and a several thousand foot drop off. Straight down.
I created this first image while waiting for the sun to set. The clouds formed an ominous triangle leading down the river and it turned out to be a nice black and white rendition.

Click to enlarge

As the clouds rolled in unexpectedly, my hopes for a gorgeous sunset faded, as the sky turned mainly gray which a few red casts on the underlit clouds. Just as I was about to pack up I turned behind me and saw gorgeous fiery clouds facing west. I grabbed my gear and sprinted as fast as I could across the canyon, setting my camera to autofocus and had just enough time to make one exposure with autometering before the color disappeared. Fortunately I was able to capture the entire tonal range of the landscape with one exposure. Seems like a likely story, but its true. And I made it back that night in one piece. The result:

Click to enlarge


Dave Miller said...

Wow! What great color and composition. And to get this in a single image! How long of an exposure did you use?

I'm headed out to Arizona and Grand Canyon in a couple of days and this is the perfect inspiration!

Thanks for sharing!

Chris said...

Thanks for the comments! The settings were 2 seconds f/11 ISO 50. Toroweap is an outstanding location at sunrise and sunset, the views are out of this world. If you go you must have an all wheel drive vehicle to rough the dirt roads, but its worth it!

scott stringham said...

one of the best shots i have seen this spot.

Dave Cleaveland said...

I was at the Grand Canyon a couple years back. I hiked to the bottom, camped overnight, and then hiked out the next day. When you're there, you just feel like shooting everything, it's so beautiful. I got a lot of nice shots, but nothing as dramatic as this. Of course, I was lazy and chose not to hike with 40 pounds of camera gear on my back... Nice job!

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