Last month I visited the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. The play of light and shadow in the canyon at sunset can be a beautiful sight, and as the last rays of sunlight illuminated parts of the canyon, I made the photograph below.
I was seconds away from losing the light completely, but I caught what I wanted. When photographing sunsets I usually stay out at least 30 minutes after the sun has set because the sky can light up with color when the sun is below the horizon. At the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, however, I headed back after finishing this photograph. My primary interest was on the play of sunlight and shadows on the canyon walls. Once the sun was below the horizon, the entire canyon was in shadow and not as interesting to me.
So I got an early start back to the lodge. But on the way back, the sky began to light up. The clouds illuminated with the beautiful colors of sunset, and I decided I wanted to capture the moment. I was in a position where I could include the lodge in my photograph. I was impressed by the architecture of the lodge on the North Rim. Originally built in 1928, the lodge looked like just another part of the canyon or an extension of it. A goal of many architects of the national park lodges was to make the lodges conform to the landscape, and they succeeded in this case.
So, just as I normally do at sunset, I stayed out until it was dark and made my photograph, which I'm happy to share with you here.
While I was making this photograph, I had an idea that it might be nice to make a composition similar to this one later in the night when the stars were out and the Milky Way would stretch above the canyon. After my late dinner, I returned to this location, but the clouds were obscuring large portions of the sky. So I decided to experiment instead. I made a very long exposure to capture the clouds streaking across the sky. I also thought it was interesting to capture the light coming from the lodge as the primary source of light in the scene. That light and its reflections lit much of the landscape you can see. The rest was lit by the post-twilight ambient light. This is not a high-quality photograph--it has a lot of noise--but I like it because it was a fun experiment to see what kind of photograph I could make in this location with these weather and light conditions.
The next morning I was back to my regular routine, and I made this photograph shortly after sunrise. Once again, the contrast between the shadows and light in the canyon is one of my primary subjects here.
I had a nice stay at the North Rim, and I’m looking forward to my next adventure and experiment in photography.