Saturday, October 15, 2016

Grand Canyon Sunset - Adventures by Disney

On our first night in Grand Canyon National Park, our Adventures by Disney guides Samantha and Doug hosted a dinner at the Thunderbird Lodge which overlooks the South Rim.  

True to fashion, they always do small things that just make sense and help to make your vacation special.  That night they encouraged (not mandatory) all the kids to sit together - they all did, and even our 17 year old joined the "kids table" and got to know some of the other kids on the trip a little bit better.  While we had dinner indoors, there was a private outdoor balcony just outside on the second floor where you could get breath-taking views of the canyon, sip your favorite beverage, and chat with the Thunderbird Chef while he grilled steaks for dinner.  He showed me an amazing sunset picture he took only a few nights before on his iPhone!  We talked about what a "tough" job he had.

I actually got this shot right after dinner by walking a few feet to the right of the Thunderbird Lodge next to a wall directly on the South Rim.  By this time the crowds are all but gone.  I read that 90% of the visitors spend only 4-5 hours total at the Grand Canyon and only 5% actually hiked down into the canyon.  The great thing about sleeping inside the park is that you can take your time when the crowds are gone and enjoy our nation's most popular National Park in near solitude.  We came back out about 9pm to see the stars and apart from a few lights along the South Rim trail, it was literally pitch black and no one was around.  It was also eerily quiet.

As with most of my shots of the Grand Canyon, I took a 3 bracket exposure to make an HDR (High Dynamic Range) image that I later merged, tone-mapped, and did some de-hazing in Adobe Lightroom.

Since the light was getting low, I could not do this shot handheld, but instead user a tripod for camera stability.  The normal exposure of the 3 image bracket was set to aperture f/8.0, 1/160 sec shutter speed, ISO100, and I used my wide angle 12mm focal length lens.