Changing Light in the Grand Canyon

What is the single most important element required in making a photograph?


There are many aspects of that single element that affect how a photo turns out – quality, strength, color, angle.  In a studio setting, all of these aspects are within the control of the person making the exposure.  In nature?  Notsomuch.  You are at the mercy of the sun.

I was able to see the landscape of the Grand Canyon change over the course of the day simply because of the changing light.  Unfortunately, we stayed about an hour away from the park, so I wasn’t able to make it there in time to see the sunrise.  BOO!  (Hello, Bucket List item!)

We arrived at the South Rim at mid-day and the sun was directly overhead, which caused the canyons to look like this:


The colors are there, but the photo looks “flat” to me.  I was able to gauge depth in person, but it’s hard to tell by looking at these photos how deep the canyon is.


As the sun moves across the sky, the cracks and crevices begin to pop.


Because of shadowing, you are able to see individual peaks and their spines leading downward toward the floor of the canyon.



You get a sense of not only depth but also space between the peaks.


But then, the time comes when the sun dips so low in the horizon, you are back to the “flat” look.


BUT! The wonderful thing about the quality of the light at sunset is that it gives colors a different tone.  The colors of the same landscape vary at different times of day.  I can’t wait to show you my sunset pictures in the next post!


What do you think? I'd love to hear from you!

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