America’s worst idea


Sunrise, Grandview Point, Grand Canyon
Canon EOS-5D Mark III
65 mm
1/4 second
ISO 100

Today’s homework assignment is “A Cathedral Under Siege,” from the August 9 edition of the “New York Times.”

I really don’t have a lot to add to the thoughts expressed in the article, except that if our National Park system is “America’s best idea,” then what is planned for the Grand Canyon may just be America’s worst idea. I only hope that common sense will prevail over the almighty dollar in time to spare this monumental boondoggle from establishing a precedent that threatens every National Park in America.

(Read a little about this image beneath the gallery.)

A National Park Gallery

About this image

Saturday evening Don Smith and I started the first of two, back-to-back Grand Canyon Monsoon photo workshops. Our first sunset shoot at Desert View was nice, but somewhat limited by haze from smoke caused by several managed fires burning near the canyon’s South Rim. Sunday morning we gathered the group at 4:30 and ushered them to Grandview Point, where we were thrilled to find the haze had cleared—in its place we found the Grand Canyon basking between a mix of clouds and clear sky that usually bodes well for a nice sunrise.

We did indeed enjoy beautiful sunrise reds and pinks that morning, but I think my favorite part of the morning came when the sun crested the horizon and in concert with low, broken clouds sent crepuscular rays skimming the canyon. I quickly pointed my camera upstream and worked on a composition to do the moment justice. The towers, bluffs, and buttes on the left were a must, but they carry a great deal of visual weight. To balance the frame I used the shafting sunlight and Colorado River snaking near the frame’s right side. The low hanging clouds provided a perfect ceiling for my frame. And because the combination of bright sky and canyon shadows created a highlight-to-shadow range that exceeded a camera’s ability to capture, I used a three-stop hard transition graduated neutral density filter from Singh-Ray to bring the difference into a manageable range.

(You might also be interested to know that the proposed tram referenced in the article would land just upriver from the segment of the river you see here.)

5 Comments on “America’s worst idea

  1. If we allow this to happen, then we might as well all stay home with our noses stuck in 5 inch screens, playing Angry Birds. And occasionally, looking at photos of a thing that was once known as The Grand Canyon, but that is no more.

  2. Hi Gary,
    I learn a lot from your descriptions on visual weight and it is very helpful. If you used a hard stop filter, where did you line it up in the horizon, and how do you keep it from looking obvious where it was placed?

  3. Thanks, Rhonda. The transition went right at the intersection of the rim and horizon. If it’s visible, I smooth it by dodging/burning in Photoshop. When possible, I move the GND slightly during exposure to further disguise the transition.

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