Sunday, 28 July 2013

Catching the sunrise at the Grand Canyon

Catching the sunrise was quite different from catching the sunset.  With the sunset, it was just a matter of checking your watch and making sure you get to the right spot on time.  The sunrise was a whole different battle - setting the alarm, even going to bed earlier the night before, packing your gear ahead of time, the struggle to get up when the alarm rang, stumbling out of bed, putting on warm clothing, then driving through the darkness when you're still half awake.  The mild surprise when you saw a crowd already assembled at your chosen location, then angling for the perfect spot, settling for second best if you're not early enough... there seemed to be a whole set of unspoken rules and protocol around this, not blocking someone else's view but asserting yourself if necessary.  It all made for a very complicated exercise in striking the right balance when your mental faculties are still groggy with sleep.

But the cold dawn would soon take care of that.  As you stood waiting in the cold, hands frozen, but still snapping away because there was nothing else to do while you wait, you caught every shade of rock as the sun inched upwards.   So what if you're wasting disc space - there's plenty.  When the sun peeked through, there was a sudden sense of everyone for himself, because there were only precious seconds before the whole blinding star came up and you couldn't point your camera at it any longer.  And almost with a collective sigh of relief, everyone went off for breakfast.

The light and the view is very similar to sunset - only in reverse (from Yavapai Point)

The sun was seconds away from popping up

and finally it's up - just swing the camera to the other side to watch the lengthening light

Spots lit up as the sun crept higher

And slowly the magic wand lit up the canyon - see how each lighted patch lengthens with every passing minute

 TIme for breakfast...

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Sunset at Yavapai Point, Grand Canyon

I remember my first view of the Grand Canyon in 1979 - the lump in my throat and tears in my eyes. The magnificence and enormity of that landscape touched me deep where words failed.  That must have been what conversion felt like.   But I was a believer then so it was more an affirmation of the presence of God.   I remember going to the village book store and looking for a book of poetry that might adequately express what I couldn't.  I didn't think I found anything I wanted to buy.  But that experience remained through the decades, back and forth between conversions and faith-busting "de-conversions" - it was like a candle that someone had kept burning for me all these years in some dark chapel.  Something to be cherished because that first impression was difficult to recapture...

I brought with me on this third visit, a better camera and a better lens and I like to think I took better pictures although the former two things  may have no bearing whatsoever on the latter.  But I was unable to recapture that first impression.  On reflection, I think what I needed was more time for contemplation.  It requires a state of mind quite different from what I brought with me this time - the search for the perfect photo spot, the search for the right aperture, the search for the perfect light.  It clearly calls for a fourth visit, one where I just sit there and watch the sunset instead of trying to figure out which f stop to use.

Sunset at Yavapai Point

The light changed very quickly.  Sunset took less than a half hour.