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Sidestepping to the North Rim...

Discussion in 'Landscapes, Architecture, and Cityscapes' started by PJohnP, May 24, 2007.

  1. PJohnP


    Feb 5, 2005
    Travel in the Southwest at this time of year is problematical. It's just on the cusp of being swarmed with tourists, many of which will be on those infernal tour buses, idling their engines with a diesel rasp as one tries to encompass the beauties of the world around them.

    Last week, I set out for the Four Corners area, with an eye to seeing a few parks. Natural Bridges NP, Glen Canyon NRA, Capital Reef NP, Bryce NP, and Zion NP passed under the wheels of my SUV, as I trod familiar paths.

    On Sunday morning, a whim struck me, and I telephoned down to the Lodge at the Grand Canyon North Rim. Now, this venue normally requires reservations as much as a year in advance. The North Rim, while less frequented than the South Rim, is equipped with a very limited number of rooms and cabins, and so I expected little. But.

    A cheery voice answered the 'phone, and informed me that a cancellation had just occurred for a western cabin, and so I engaged it immediately. A swift three hours' drive later, I was dropping my bags in the cabin, and then proceeding outward.

    The day was fairly misty in the canyon, grey clouds filled various parts of the sky, and visibility wasn't very good. I decided to take photos when conditions would permit, but to otherwise focus (pun intended) my attentions on the experience of the day.

    At sunset, I was overlooking Cape Royal, as clouds occluded much of the horizon, and the visibility hadn't improved a whit. The horizon areas all around were going to blow in a thorough fashion for any shots that would have a hope of exposing the mesas and buttes in the canyon, the clouds were a steely grey, and - mon dieu, quelle horreur - I had left my tripod almost twenty minutes brisk walk away in my SUV. Still, this was my opportunity to take my own sunset photos of the Grand Canyon. But, how to proceed ?

    After a moment's reflection, I decided to work with a circular polariser to cut some of the haze, and to further employ a Daryl Bensen Reverse-Graduated-Neutral-Density filter to try and limit the blown horizon. This would also be a test if my hands were as steady as my mind in this moment (and those who know me will attest that my mind is not necessarily the most level, either...).

    As the sun made a desultory appearance between the clouds and the horizon, I tried several compositions, but as with so many low light cases, I held small hopes of success.

    I drove home Tuesday night, and only today did I have a brief look at the photos trapped within the hard drive of my Hyperdrive. I must consider that photos, like fruit, often ripen when left untouched.


    D200; 12-24mm AFS f/4; processed in NC; crop, resize, copyright in PS-CS2

    Even when the tripod's not at hand...

    Always shoot.

    John P.
  2. murreywalker


    Mar 25, 2005
    Looks like you left the fruit to ripen perfectly.

    Outstanding photos, John!

  3. I enjoyed reading your words as if I had been riding along side you in the SUV and discussing the photo ops and wonders around us. Your images brought me back to my senses, VERY nice!
  4. Love the photos. And the narrative ain't bad either!
  5. Gale


    Jan 26, 2005
    Viera Fl
    Wow it doesn't get any better than that
    Good work and fast thinking.
  6. PJohnP


    Feb 5, 2005
    Thanks everyone !

    Sometimes, it's the journey to the photograph that I find the most satisfying. I'm glad that the story can sometimes be of interest to others.

    John P.
  7. biggstr6


    Apr 26, 2005
    Good post John.
    And good advice .Always shoot even if youre set up is not ideal, you may suprise yourself.
  8. PJohnP


    Feb 5, 2005
    Biggs :

    Thanks for the kind words.

    To be truthful, I'm often surprised at what comes out from the camera, even when I've meticulously planned and executed a shot. There are always imponderables in shooting landscapes and wildlife, which, of course, make the hobby side of the shooting much more enjoyable (when they're not driving us crazy :wink:) . Fortunately, the shooting in my "day job" in industrial facilities is a touch more predictable (and reliable, as it pays for the gear).

    John P.
  9. davewolfs


    May 23, 2006
    This is an excellent capture and you should be very proud of it.

    Both images are great, but I like your technique of leading the eye in the second image by using a crop.

    I have a few of technical questions for you.

    1. What Polarizer did you use for this?
    2. How did you manage to fit on a Polarizer along with a grad without having any vignetting? What system are you using?
    3. How many stops is the Grad that you are using?


  10. PJohnP


    Feb 5, 2005
    Dave :

    Thanks for the kind thoughts.

    Here are some answers to your questions :

    1. I used a Hoya circular polariser.

    2. If you look at the shots, they're both cropped. I did get some vignetting, but I composed around it - essentially maintaining the image I wanted within the vignette. The filter's mounted on a Cokin filter holder, and yes, it does vignette at 12mm. If I were purchasing again, I might consider a Lee filter holder.

    3. The GND isn't a typical GND, but is a Daryl Benson Reverse Neutral Density Graduated Filter (made by Singh-Ray) which isn't at all what you'd expect. You can see a detailed discussion of this filter at : Reverse GND (look down the page after the Galen Rowell GND discussion). Shooting with this filter is a trip - it's not something that you pull out of the bag very often, but when you do, it's exactly what you want to have on the lens.​

    As for the crop, thanks very much for the compliment. The first shot was a "typical" shot that captured more of the canyon and the buttes inside the canyon, but I very consciously composed the second shot, hoping that I could get the lines to work, and working with a "near-far" approach to the composition. That shot was essentially composed within the vignetting of the filters, and I just cropped out the blackened corners.

    I'm very pleased that it worked ! :biggrin:

    John P.
  11. davewolfs


    May 23, 2006
    I actually have a Lee holder and it works great, no vignetting at 12mm.

    I tried something new with it, I was able to screw on the holder ring to my circular PL. I've always thought this would be a pain because of the polarizer turning while putting on the holder ring. It turns out it's not so bad.

    I think I might have to order a reverse GND. How many stops is yours? I found 3 to be most useful.
  12. PJohnP


    Feb 5, 2005
    Dave :

    The reverse-GND that I use is a 3-stop model. For the most part, I find that it's possible to shoot where the differences are less than 3 stops with planned exposures, but at 3 stops, it starts to get more "interesting". Note again that I was using a reverse-GND which isn't the same as a "garden variety" GND. I use those as well for my shooting, and the Singh-Ray Galen Rowell is quite wonderful in that respect.

    As for vignetting, the combo of the CP and the reverse-GND seems to be more prone to this problem. I've had the same thing occur when I've used stacked CPs with the 12-24mm f/4 DX due to the restricted image size of the DX lens type (I've sometimes stacked CPs to get the effect of an ND filter where I wanted to slow my shutter speed - another neat item that I'm lusting for is the Singh-Ray Vari-ND filter).

    I did a shot sometime back with stacked CPs and the reverse-GND that you might find interesting, which I called Lemonade.

    John P.
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 15, 2017
  13. Sure glad you decided to spend the time shooting without your tripod. These are really gorgeous.
  14. PJohnP


    Feb 5, 2005
    Terri :

    Thanks for the kind words.

    Sometimes, sometimes, it's still possible to get handheld shots to come off at low shutter speeds (1/15 and 1/20 sec respectively), for which I am profoundly grateful. :wink:

    John P.
  15. Very enjoyable commentary and wonderful shots. I particularly like the second.
  16. Your lucky day, John!
    Beautiful shots.

    aka beaucamera
  17. Beautiful, John. Exposure is right-on, composition is nice, and the colors are rich and natural.

    However, I do have one nit to pick: to me they look a tad oversharpened. Is that just the natural appearance of those rock faces?
  18. Nice texture on these, John. Must have been a fun trip!
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