Follow these tricks of the trade to make your Grand Canyon photographs look like they were taken by a pro.
Select an image to learn how it was captured, and tips to getting similar shots.
1. Best time to shoot
Pre-dawn, mid-morning and late evening until after dark, in any season is the premier time to take photographs while in Grand Canyon National Park.
2. The rule of thirds…
This basic principle of composition is a guideline for framing a photograph by breaking the scene in your viewfinder or LCD screen into thirds both horizontally and vertically. Imagine a rectangle-shaped window pane with nine equal panels that are created by four intersecting lines. Research has shown that a photograph is more pleasing to the eye if the subject or focal point is located where the lines intersect rather than in the exact center of the frame.
3. What lens to use
You do not need a big lens; 300 MM and below are enough unless you are shooting the dangerous animals. For dangerous wild animals in Grand Canyon, it’s recommended you use a larger lens and shoot from the safety of your vehicle.
4. For landscape photos…
Use a focal length setting of 10mm up to 300mm on your wideangle, telephoto or all-in-one zoom lens and put the subject in the landscape…to capture the sense of place with the animal or subject in its environment.
5. Optimal summer conditions in Grand Canyon
In June and July, optimal photography conditions in the Grand Canyon would be a blue sky with some clouds in it. If you’re out early, when the light comes out, it creates the magenta sky with red and orange clouds.
6. Be patient
When shooting photographs in the outdoors and in a natural wonderland like the Grand Canyon, patience is a must. It’s a waiting game.
7. Pay attention to the lighting
Contrary to popular belief, do not shoot with the sun directly at your back. Doing so will make the light on the subject flat. Move so the light is at an angle and you’ll get more texturing and shadows and a result, a much more interesting photo. Most great photos are either side-lit or have the light coming in from a different angle.
8. Make photography a passion before you choose to make it a career.
You have to shoot a lot of photos to really learn how to take great photos. It is an art form.
9. When to Use a Tripod
Photographers with tripods poised on the rim of Grand Canyon is a common sight, especially at sunrise and sunset. But when is a tripod really necessary? Anytime you are shooting landscapes in low light, a tripod can ensure proper exposure and crisp images. For optimal results from your equipment, set your digital camera at a low ISO and a mid-range aperture of f/8 or f/11; then adjust your exposure time accordingly.
10. Protecting Your Equipment
Grit: There is loads of it in Grand Canyon. Have a lens cleaning brush and cloth handy, and use them often. Also, use the sensor cleaning mechanism on the camera body if you are swapping out lenses on the trail. Avoid shooting when sand is blowing. Carry camera body and lenses in a padded chest pouch that attaches to pack shoulder straps or in a specialized camera backpack.
Water: On river trips, keep gear in padded camera pouches that are stored in waterproof dry bags or in watertight hardshell plastic cases with padded interiors. Both methods will likely keep gear dry if the boat flips over; the added benefit to the plastic cases is that they will also protect against hard knocks on rocks.
Great Tamron gear for great Grand Canyon photos!
SP 18-270mm Di II VC PZD
Tamron’s ultra compact 18-270 VC PZD all-in-one zoom lens features VC anti-shake for blur-free pictures and new PZD (Piezo Drive) for fast and quiet AF. Its 15X range is perfect for shooting every moment–celebrations, sports, vacations, everyday snapshots…without switching lenses! Winner of the prestigious EISA Best Product Award 2011-2012: Zoom Lens. Perfect your Nikon, Canon or Sony smaller sensor DSLR camera. (And now model B011 18-200mm Di III VC for your Sony mirrorless camera).
Tamron’s SP 70-300mm Di VC USD ultra tele zoom lens delivers class-leading sharpness, brilliant color and striking contrast. Featuring Tamron’s USD (Ultrasonic Silent Drive) auto-focus drive for fast and quiet AF and VC (Vibration Compensation) image stabilization for steady hand-held shots. Winner of the prestigious EISA Best Product Award 2010-2011: Zoom Lens. Designed for your Canon, Nikon or Sony DSLR camera.
SP 10-24mm Di II
Landscapes, streetscapes, architecture and confining interiors come to life beautifully with the true, striking wide-angle perspective provided with this ultra wideangle zoom. Images exhibit negligible distortion in normal use, but if the photographer chooses spectacular effects can be introduced by disregarding the camera’s relationship to level. Professional Photographer Hot One Winner 2009. Designed for Canon, Nikon, Pentax and Sony smaller sensor DSLR cameras.