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I need tips for taking pictues in the Grand Canyon!?
I will be on the South rim...this summer I'm entering a photo contest and i need tips for photography in the Grand Canyon
Best Answer - Chosen by Asker: Your options for photography at the canyon depends on what sort of camera you have (ie: what lens you have and how much control you have over the settings) and (to a lesser degree) your basic experience as a photographer. It would be helpful to state what sort of camera you have and how big of a print you want to make.
The poster above has some good general comments, but I would disagree about film vs digital. Unless you are planning on making a very large gallery-quality print, most of today's better digital cameras are fine and (especially if you are fairly new to photography) being able to instantly see and retake shots with the digital is a huge advantage.
As for the canyon itself...
As others have mentioned sunrise and sunset are best because of the soft light and because the shadows add contrast and detail. Taking a shot of the main canyon during the middle of a clear day will most likely cause the image to be washed out. In brightly lit areas of the canyon, you can sometimes get a little extra color, contrast and detail by slightly under-exposing your images, if your camera allows you to set this (usually a control with a +/- label). Clouds and summer monsoon storms can also make for dramatic shots (especially if they occur at sunrise or sunset).
Also as others have mentioned, the canyon can be challenge because it is so big and the views are so sweeping that it is hard to capture in a single shot. That is your clue... unless you have a very high-end very wide-angle lens don't go for plain wide-landscape views that try to take in the whole canyon. Find some specific detail to focus in on or put something else in the foreground with the wider canyon as a backdrop. People often get so focus on the big wide canyon view that they miss many excellent smaller shots.
Here are a few examples of what I am talking about:
- Find a place where there is a sharp bend or extending ridge on the rim and then instead of shooting outward at the canyon, shoot back along the edge of the rim with the nearby ridge or outcrop in the foreground and the wider canyon in the background. Walking along the rim trail to the west of the lodges (toward Hermit's Rest) provides some good shots looking back toward Kolb Studio and the top of the Bright Angel trail with the canyon beyond.
- Hike into the canyon a little ways and take a picture of some smaller feature in the canyon. For example, do the 3.5 mile hike down the Hermit Trail to Dripping Springs where you can capture a small spring that pours out of the cliffside into a little pool with moss and ferns. Or go down the South Kaibab trail 1.4 miles to Cedar Ridge reststop and get the boulders and trees there in the foreground with the wider canyon beyond. If you go down any of the trails, keep a sharp eye for unusual shots on the way up - such as catching the curving design of the trail as it switchbacks up the canyon wall. A note on canyon hiking: don't try to go to the bottom in a day and bring lots of water.
- Lastly, people often overlook the many interesting and historic buildings at the canyon. Lookout Studio, Hermit's Rest, Yavapai Observation Station and Desertview Watchtower are all very interesting buildings that make nice photographs just by themselves and are also close enough to the edge that you can put them in the foreground with the canyon in the background. At Desertview, walking along the rim a ways to the west will provide a nice shot that shows the tower perched on the rim with the canyon stretching out below. Without including the canyon at all, there are some nice possible shots of the historic Hopi House (built to look like an indian pueblo) and the grand El Tovar lodge (trying looking for interesting shots both inside and outside these buildings).
The important thing for photography where ever you go is to always be looking for a new shot. Move around to different angles and perspectives - try zooming in and out. Many people are so awed by the huge wide view of the canyon that they miss some of the smaller unique shots that might be right under their nose.