Join Peter Eastway on a celebration of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s odyssey!
One of the many locations in the world that I struggle with (photographically) is the Grand Canyon. I remember before I had visited there the first time, someone told me I would be blown away by the scale. I was sure I would be, because everyone says how big it is, but there are big places in Australia, too.
Yet, knowing all this and thinking I was prepared for 'big space', when I first stepped out of the rental car and looked over the edge, I couldn't help myself, exclaiming "F*%# me, that's huge!!"
Now, I realise you will be utterly shocked to learn that I swear. My parents taught me proper, especially in public. On the other hand, if you have already visited the Grand Canyon, you're probably smiling and remembering your own first encounter with 'big space'.
Yet despite the Grand Canyon being so grand, I struggle to get great shots. Sure, I can take panoramas and overviews, but often there is so much haze that the photos struggle to look impressive. In the photo books you find in the souvenir shops, you see that this style of photograph works best when there's a weather system pushing through. And I guess the more times you go, the greater the chances of finding interesting light.
If the weather isn't cooperating (photographically), then early mornings and late evenings provide me with the best opportunities. If there's direct sunlight, it can be a struggle to deal with the high contrast: deep shadows inside the canyon versus the bright sky above. Before sunrise and after sunset, the light softens out and this is when the above photo was taken. There's also a bit of a colour cast in the file - from memory there was a little cloud over the horizon where the sun was rising - and I've chosen to keep the colour in the final image.
I've also used a telephoto. While everyone should take a grand view and a panorama, if you're looking for images with impact, then I think a telephoto allows you to concentrate on small sections of the Canyon. And there is no shortage of opportunities as you drive along the rim road.
This photo was taken earlier this year on a photo tour with Tony Hewitt, travelling from San Fran to Las Vegas. We're going again next February and there is just one seat left in our luxury van, so if you're interested, check out the website here.