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Rafting the Grand Canyon

A Photographic Adventure

Cliffs & Canyons

Matkatamiba Canyon ‹ Grand Canyon, May 2000

At Mile 148 lies Matkatamiba Canyon. An extremely difficult hike up a narrow river cascade lead us to a gentle amphitheater where everyone relaxed after the climb. At the recommendation of C.C. Lockwood, the trip's photography guide, a couple of friends and I hiked further up the trail and came upon this stunning mid-morning vista.

While I accept the fact that many of the locales in the Southwest that I shoot in have been photographed extensively, I've never seen photographs from this location before. It was very exciting to be doing photography in an almost unknown location.

I wished for a large format camera but because of the remoteness and difficult terrain there's no way that I or most any photographer could have made it to this spot with a view camera. The perspective controls of the Canon tilt/shift lens though, which was used for this image, were extremely helpful. 

The use of a split neutral density filter would have greatly helped to tame the extreme contrast range, but because of the difficulty of the climb to this location it had been left behind in the raft, many hundreds of feet below. Nevertheless Provia 100F proved itself capable of holding sufficient detail both in the shadows and the highlights of this image.

Photographed with a Canon EOS-1V and 24mm f/3.5L T/S lens on Fuji Provia 100F

If you are interested in digital techniques a Tutorial on how to do
 Blended Exposures using PhotoShop uses this image as an example.

North Canyon #1, Grand Canyon ‹ May, 2000

Just past Mile 116 lies Elves Chasm, an aptly named section of Royal Arch Creek. This site was reached via a tricky and wet climb though narrow canyons, often in waist deep water.

If Frodo had walked out from behind a rock, I wouldn't have been surprised.

Photographed with a Canon EOS-1V and 28~70mm f/2.8L lens on Fuji Provia 100F

North canyon #2, Grand Canyon ‹ May, 2000

One of the advantages of doing this trip with a group whose orientation is photography, is that in locations such as this the taking of photographs takes priority over playing in the water. Only once the few of us (only 4 or 5 out of a group of 28) were finished shooting would the rest of the group be able to do what we all wanted to do anyhow ‹ escape from the 100+ degree heat by jumping into the pools of water.

This photograph is of the same water shoot and pool as the one above, just taken from further back and with a wider lens. The 24mm's tilt function was use to create a very deep plane of focus.

Photographed with a Canon EOS-1V and 24mm f/3.5L T/S lens on Fuji Provia 100F

Canyon Swirl, Grand Canyon ‹ May, 2000

The hike up through Elves Chasm was completely mesmerizing. If it hadn't been for a desire to see what was at the end, and the knowledge that we had a finite amount of time to explore this area, I could have spent the entire day doing detail studies like the one above.

Photographed with a Canon EOS-1V and 24mm f/3.5L T/S lens on Fuji Provia 100F

Rock Wall #1, Grand Canyon ‹ May, 2000

Each day of the 8 day trip we would spend 4-5 hours rafting down the river; sometimes drifting sometimes motoring. Vistas such as this were common, particularly early in the morning when the warm light suffused the rock with glowing colours.

The Canon Image Stabilization technology allowed even a long lens (here, about 300mm) to be used from the moving raft.

Photographed with a Canon EOS-1V and 100~400mm f/5.6L IS lens on Fuji Provia 100F

Ragged Wash with Tree, Grand Canyon ‹ May, 2000

Though the Grand Canyon is for the most part a desert landscape there is vegetation, and sometimes it's in the strangest places. This wash clearly has enough water running through it to support a large tree, yet not so much during  flood conditions as to knock it over.

Though it looks deserted, I had to wait quite a while for everyone in our party to pass though this spot on their way to a waterfall higher up the canyon. 

Photographed with a Canon EOS-1V and 28~70mm f/2.8L lens on Fuji Provia 100F

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Concepts: Camera, Photography, Grand Canyon, Large format, Digital single-lens reflex camera, Fujifilm, Image, View camera

Entities: Canon, Grand Canyon, vista, Michael Reichmann, C.C. Lockwood, Southwest, PhotoShop

Tags: Canon EOS-1V, Provia, 100F, split neutral density filter, stunning mid-morning vista, image, Canon Image Stabilization, narrow river cascade, extreme contrast range, waist deep water, Royal Arch Creek, large format camera, canyon, wider lens, long lens, photograph, trip, photography, Matkatamiba Canyon, gentle amphitheater, difficult hike, wet climb, perspective controls, difficult terrain, tilt function, narrow canyons, unknown location, photography guide, strangest places, view camera, degree heat, deep plane, water shoot, digital techniques, flood conditions, Grand Canyon, warm light, desert landscape, large tree, group