Grand Canyon/Arches/Canyonlands Trip Advice


No longer a newbie, moving up!
Jun 25, 2013
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Denver, Colorado
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Hi Guys,

I didn't see another place in the forum to post this, so I'll do it here.

My wife and I are going to the three places mentioned above in September. I'm looking to get some really good shots of the canyon and surrounding landscapes, especially at sunrise/sunset. I'll be using just basic Nikkor 18-55mm VR and a 55-200mm VR lenses.

I'm sure plenty of you have photographed these places and I was looking for both:

1. Advice on any techniques you've used for sunset/rise shots (filters/ISO...etc)

Ex: I've heard it's good to slightly underexpose certain canyon shots to capture the full "orange" color and then correct it in lightroom?

2. Can't miss places to shoot at

We'll be at the South Rim (mather campground)

Thanks! You guys rock!

I have never been to those places (maybe one day) .... but I will say that underexposure is better than overexposure.
Slow down. I've been to all those places, all on one quick trip. We were moving so fast from one iconic locale to another, I wasn't able to take the time to wait for good light. I took what I could get at the time I was at a particular location. Big mistake. Be patient.

On the other hand: WOW!. We had a great time. The scenery is truly spectacular. Enjoy your trip.
Get a good set of graduated ND filters (I'd suggest soft grad rather than hard grad) in 1, 2 and 3 stop increments. Scout your location the night before, and then arrive at least 15 minutes prior to dawn so that you can set up and double-check your gear.
i've been to all of those. you CAN buy the grads, or you can bracket and then do more layering in photoshop, which is what i do to cut down shooting time and save money. a circular polarizer is gonna be super useful, so use one of those to really get the color from the shots.

spots wise...

1- mesa arch. sunrise. get there REALLY early. its only about 20 feet wide and youll be competing for space to shoot here. id say at least an hour before sunrise. maybe earlier.

1- delicate arch - sunset
2- hole in the wall - sunrise

grand canyon
1- sunset at the north rim lodge
2- desert view with the watch tower, sunrise (close to mather)
3 - any of the spots along the canyon near mather

other (if you have time, there are some great spots around that area)
1- monument valley (on the border between utah and arizona)
2- upper and lower antelope canyons (just outside page, az. go to the less busy one (i forget which). you can hang around longer if you have a tripod, and less people.)
3- horseshoe bend (AMAZING spot to shoot just outside of page, az (to the west)

i did 1 week loop around utah and hit all of these. so fun. check my portfolio for some shots of these.

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