Grand Canyon Sky

The Grand Canyon is considered to be one of the natural Wonders of the World and rightly so.  The sheer size of it boggles the mind.  In some ways it is like a mountain in reverse.  I have stood on the cold snowy rim with icy trails and temps below freezing while it is a pleasant 60 degrees (15 c) along the river.

Last year I planned a visit around the March new moon.  I was hoping there might be some snow but it was all melted.  It was still cold at night with lows below freezing and the daytime temps did not get too much above freezing but no snow left on the rim.  It certainly made putting up a tent easier than my visit in February where there was 3 feet of snow I had to dig through to put the tent up.

It was a cloudy and windy day when I arrived and as the day waned snow started to fall from the sky and the clouds broke up just enough to get an epic sunset.  Snow was falling over the canyon, especially on the north rim.  The light was magical with the setting sun lighting up the rain and snow falling from the clouds.  It was everything you hope for in a visit to the Grand Canyon and it was amazing.  As a photographer it almost overwhelms you as there is so much going on.  You want to be everywhere and photograph everything in every direction.
Snowstorm with Voigtlander 10mm

I tried to be a little mobile and had my main set up as my Sony A7R and a few primes, mainly my 15mm and 21mm.  I had also rented a Voigtlander 10mm, this is the widest, non fisheye lens ever made.  With it I could capture the whole storm.  I also had my little Sony NEX6 kit worn around my neck.  This is where this excels.  It is so light I do not notice I am wearing it, but I can grab it and zoom out for a longer shot with it hand held.  

It was a good combo that allowed me to move around chasing the light, clouds and color.
Milky Way over Canyon

That night it cleared up and when I awoke at 0300 and saw stars, I grabbed the cameras and went out to photograph the Milky Way over the canyon.  There is dark sky at the Grand Canyon (you can see the lights of Flagstaff and Las Vegas glowing on the horizon) and on a clear night the Milky Way will shine in the sky.  Photographers take note it is still very dark in the depths of the grand Canyon so the inside of the canyon can easily come out totally black with no detail.  You need a Sony A7S or take a longer second image to blend.  Luckily, I have an A7S and I can pick up detail in the canyon. 

I photographed the stars and the arc of the Milky Way until dawn getting a few nice images.  
Starburst from Loxa 21mm lens

My second day there was a good day for a hike and then I hiked the rim trail west of the lodge catching another good sunset from the area around Hopi Point.  Every day is different and while we had no snow this afternoon, we had some nice clouds and light.  At dark we walked to the point and caught the bus back.

Grand Canyon is crowded, even in March and the buses are running.  After sunset we just catch the bus back to the lodge (and then the transfer to the campground).

The next morning was mostly cloudy.  I went out to try for the Milky Way and only got a few good shots of it but the clouds added a new dimension as they started picking up light way early and I got some nice shots where I see the Milky Way and it look almost like sunrise.  I stayed through sunrise, which turned out to be amazing with great clouds and light.

Only two nights at the Grand Canyon but I was luckily enough to see some great light, the Milky Way and bring back several nice images.


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