Sunrise on Top of the Grand Canyon

Pre Sunrise Grand Canyon 7D2_5300

I decided today that I was going to see the Grand Canyon at sunrise, then do my walk down into the canyon. One of the rangers had advised that Mather Point was a good place to see the sunrise. So I manage to drag my ass out of bed early, an extraordinary thing for what I hoped would be an extraordinary sunrise.

I get up and it is COLD. I turn on the heater for just a little bit of line freezing insurance, my thermometer says its 5 Celsius in the RV, but it is early, and the sun takes a while to start warming up the RV through the trees. Not to mention, I’m outta here tomorrow, so I know I’ll get a battery recharge pretty quick. Oh, did I mention I wouldn’t mind being a little warmer this morning?

Bacon and eggs are on order for breakfast today, the one day I can count on burning up every last calorie of that meal hiking the Grand Canyon. Coffee is on ration though – unlike the desert elsewhere, I can’t just pee any old place – people walking everywhere around here, and fewer bathrooms than you’d think! Aging sucks, but the wisdom to deal with it helps mitigate it a bit at any rate.

Off I go, in the dark cross country to hit Mather point – I’ve only got a few minutes before sunrise, so I have to hustle, but carefully – it’s still pretty dark and I don’t want to break a leg going over a log doing my hustle. I’ve got my tripod with me, thinking it may be dark enough still I need it for pre-dawn photos. I figure it being winter, cold and not that many people around, I’d only have a couple of people there with me – nice and serene.

Mather Point Crawling with Pre Sunrise People 7D2_5304

Oh no, it seems that with buses running prior to sunrise, all the early morning rising tourists had the same idea as me. Not to mention, it is already pretty light out, no need for anyone to trip over my tripod. That is going to be dead weight for the rest of this photo session. Oh well, time to crowd onto the platform and see if I would be blown away or not.

Pre Dawn Light on the Rim 7D2_5310

I look expectantly at the brightening sky. Seeing a bit of cloud is promising for lighting up the sky in the red, orange and yellow glory of the first light of the day. But I feel it is not going to be a spectacular sky – not bad, but nothing that is going to blow me away.

I look the other way and the light bulb goes off – this is the way to be looking as the sun comes up, the Grand Canyon, that is what you want to see lit with the rising sun behind you.

Sunrise on the Rim 7D2_5316

I snap a few shots of the sunrise. This may look spectacular, but it is a photographer’s trick – zoom in on the rising sun and even a small amount of clouds suddenly looks like this glorious ball of light surrounded by color rising into the sky. But it’s not a bad sunrise for sure.

Sunlight Starting to Bath the Red Rocks 7D2_5320

I turn my attention away from the rising sun to the canyon behind me – sure enough, the light is starting to play on the rocks below. I have walked away from Mather Point, too many people getting in the way of me there. There are plenty of places to observe the canyon and get good shots, just not with a nice fence to keep you from falling in, so take care!

Sunrise on Isis Temple 7D2_5333 ps

The light is tricky – you watch the colors slowly changing – I snapped Isis Temple several times in a few minutes – trying to capture just the right light and color before it washed out into the daytime yellow.

Yellow Rocks at Edge 7D2_5336

The light yellow rocks turn an orange with the rising sun on them – one must look near and far for the best photos of the first light. Look quickly too – the same rocks had faded back to their daytime yellow five minutes later.

Sunrise Viewers on Point 7D2_5346

Looking over at all the people, small against the rocks dropping off into the canyon, I wonder at vastness of it all, made light at the beginning of the day.

Canyon Ridges and Shadows 7D2_5347

I am rewarded with some contrasting vistas of ridges going into the distance – it is as I suspected, a good sunrise – but not a great one. Post processing for contrast, and light makes it seem more than what it was, but photography is as much about capturing the mind’s eye as the actual image.

Late Sunrise Colors 7D2_5373

I get a few snaps of the light hitting some of the lower areas of the canyon, and then it is over, 40 minutes from predawn to yellow morning light. It feels almost rushed, trying to get it all in – and enjoy the splendor while you are at it. But it was time to return to the RV and prepare for the rest of my day – to hike into the Grand Canyon!

About ralph

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