I’d woke at 3:30AM (ouch) to meet friend and fellow landscape photographer Doug Koepsel for a sunrise shoot at Yaki Point, on the south rim of Grand Canyon National Park. After a 30 minute hike through the pre-dawn darkness, we were a bit disappointed to find a heavy wall of clouds blocking the eastern sky where the sun would rise. 5:19AM came and went, with no brilliant, colorful clouds to reward us for our efforts. We folded up our tripods and hiked eastward along the edge, scouting for possible spots to use on future visits. Eventually, the clouds began to dissipate, allowing these beautiful beams of light to shine down, and igniting hopes that we might still see the canyon lit up in the early morning sun.
Someone recently thanked me for giving them the opportunity to “see places that we will never see in person”. For most of you, this is one of those places.
Tatahatso Point offers an outstanding view of the Colorado River several miles before it reaches the Grand Canyon. Like many of the spots I travel to for photography, I’d seen a few photos of it and knew I had to see it for myself. The Point is located on Navajo land, so a permit must be obtained before one can legally travel to it. Once a permit is granted, the real fun begins. Directions to Tatahatso Point are not easy to come by. Very little information is available, even on the internet. I managed to land written directions from a fellow photographer (thanks Doug) who’d been out there before. I located the turnoff from US 89 onto Navajo land. The Navajo roads are unpaved and unmarked, with what seemed like a fork every mile of the 20 or so miles that lead to my destination. It was slow going. I would set my trip meter, refer to the directions, drive the designated distance, re-set my trip meter, refer to the directions, and so on. The route took me across wide open, rolling plains. It was open range and I saw the occasional herd of wild horses. One would never guess that such an expansive canyon view lie just a few more miles due west.
Finally, after a wrong turn or two, I arrived at the viewpoint. A small rock fire ring was really the only evidence that anyone had ever spent any time here, and I was delighted to have the spot to myself. The sky was mostly cloudy and I didn’t get the sunset I’d hoped for, but I did manage to capture this shot while a bit of sun broke through long enough to light up the buttes in the foreground. The scene is so vast that it couldn’t be captured entirely in one shot, even with a wide-angle lens. This is three vertical shots blended together in Photoshop to make a large panorama.
Click on the photo for a better view.
Just a mile or two south of Page, Arizona is a spot where the Colorado River makes a complete 270 degree bend 1000 feet below your view-point. Horseshoe Bend is a popular spot with photographers from all over the world, and with good reason. The view is nothing short of spectacular and it’s a fairly easy to reach location. I recently spent a few days near Page, and until then I had never really placed Horseshoe Bend very high on my list of “must see” landscapes. After shooting sunset one evening and sunrise the following morning, I’m now looking forward to my next opportunity to experience this iconic location.
Located just north of the Arizona-Utah state line, Stud Horse Point is one of the more bizarre landscapes I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing. Multi-colored sandstone and towering hoodoos decorate a steep hillside overlooking miles of open desert leading to the towering walls of Glen Canyon. I recently spent one night of an extended weekend there. Standing approximately thirty to forty feet tall, I have to assume that the main focal point of my composition is the areas namesake. In the distant right hand side of the photo, the southern tip of Lake Powell lies beneath the cliffs.
A final shot from my February trip to the Grand Canyon’s South Rim. This was captured at Pima Point, 24 minutes prior to the photo in my previous post (Get Up!). The sun is still below the horizon, but the soft glow of the sky was enough to delicately illuminate the canyon. Enjoy.
“Mostly cloudy with strong winds.” The weather forecast for sunrise did not look good, but I was only an hour away from the south rim of the Grand Canyon, so I knew I had to take a chance and be there when the sun rose. Driving an hour in the pre-dawn darkness can be a nerve-wracking experience up here. Less than twelve hours ago I’d seen herds of elk and deer along these same roads. I arrived at Pima Point without incident, and before the sun rose. When I shot this, the wind was blowing so hard that I had to hold down my camera/tripod and block them from the wind with my body.
My eyes scanned the jagged cliffs below the Mojave Point viewing area on the Grand Canyon’s south rim, looking for an interesting spot to photograph the sunset. 50 feet below the steel safety wall, a small island of Kaibab sandstone rose above the abyss. A lone pinion pine grew there, not more than two feet tall.
Tourists started gathering along the rail as the sun inched towards the horizon. Some watched with curiosity as I made my way around the wall and very carefully down the steep cliff to the sandstone island. The lone pine made an interesting subject as the light changed from warm and bright to the soft glow seen here. This shot was captured probably ten to fifteen minutes after the sun set.
Click on the photo for a better view…
Several of my favorite photos are currently on display at
2603 N Central Ave
Phoenix, AZ 85004.
Great food and nice people who have excellent taste in nature photography!