These tricks of the trade will make your Grand Canyon action photographs look like they were taken by a pro.
Photographing River Rapids
The Trick: Capture the decisive moment.
Location: Colorado River
Tools and Settings: SLR camera,100-400mm lens, ISO 100, f/4, 1/500 second
On rafting trips, the group will often stop and scout rapids. Shoot the run from the bank, with camera settings dialed in advance and clicking off fast bursts of frames. Keep an eye out for body language. What helps this image is the guy in the front of the raft; there is a certain apprehension in his body position that makes you feel the tension of the moment.
> Use automatic focus. In your viewfinder, choose your focusing point and keep it centered on the boat.
> Shoot a little wide to get all of fast moving boat and crop image later in post processing.
Photographing the Colorado River
The Trick: Work with contrast.
Location: Colorado River, Inner Gorge
Tools and Settings:DSLR camera, 16-35mm lens, ISO 100, f/8, 1/125 second
Even after rowing down the canyon three times, I had only a few good rafting images. The problem: Full sun In this stretch of deep canyon created dark shadows. By adjusting exposure to make the boat and its passengers silhouettes, I was able to use this harsh lighting to my advantage. I used manual camera settings to ensure the shadows would be dark. If I had let the camera expose the scene in auto mode, it might have been tricked into overexposing the subjects in an effort to get detail in the shadowed area. Once I got the camera set, I rowed into position to frame the boat in the reflected part of the river.
> Keep shadows black by taking manual exposure reading on sunlit areas.
> Position subject (in this case, the boat) in area of reflection, with lines pointing to subject.
> Follow the rule of thirds for a pleasing composition.
The Trick: Use slow shutter speeds to create a sense of motion.
Location: Colorado River rapid
Tools and Settings: SLR camera, 100-400mm lens, ISO 100, f/5.6 1/30 second
When photographing this fast moving kayaker, I played with longer exposure times to create a blurring effect and sense of action.
> Pan camera with moving subject.
> Use Shutter Priority Mode on your camera. This lets you adjust shutter speed manually while your camera dials in aperture to arrive at the correct exposure. Start with 1/15 second and dial your shutter speed faster or slower based on the results you are getting.