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Author Topic: Landscape tips needed on shooting the Grand Canyon  (Read 8042 times)

ahsanford

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Re: Landscape tips needed on shooting the Grand Canyon
« Reply #15 on: November 14, 2012, 01:26:08 PM »
First image is Lipan Point, second is Navajo Point

Nice shots.  I've noticed a blue shift like yours on the distant horizon mountains in my photos as well. It is certainly what my eyes see, so these shots are well rendered.

Can you walk me through what causes that blue cast (physically, that is)?  I'm guessing it's diffraction of light through so much air (perhaps that's nonsense), but from a photog perspective, is that something you wish to capture, wish to filter out, wish to shift to true black shadows, etc.?  What are the composition and post-processing considerations for this?   Would I see a similar cast if I went with the longer tele?

Just curious.

- A

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Re: Landscape tips needed on shooting the Grand Canyon
« Reply #15 on: November 14, 2012, 01:26:08 PM »

ahsanford

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Re: Landscape tips needed on shooting the Grand Canyon
« Reply #16 on: November 14, 2012, 01:36:54 PM »
Hi,

we travelled to the southrim of the Grand Canyon in May this year. It was amazing!

We stayed 2 nights at Mather Campground. We also hiked the South Kaibab trail until Skeleton Point and back.

My favorites beside the hike was the sunset from Hopi Point and the sunrise from Yaki Point. Also the view from the Desert Watchtower is great. You can do the Watchtower when you leave the park to the East.

Camerawise I brought the 5D2 along with the 17-40L and the 70-200 4L IS.

You definitely need the 17mm on FF for the Canyon!!!
Also the 70-200 @ 200 was great in the evening hours, just before sunset.

On more recommendation for the Antelope Canyon:
Go there during noon if you can. We did the lower Antelope Canyon at 10 a.m. which was great and the upper Antelope Canyon unfortunately at 1 p.m. It was dark as night down there!

Great tip on Antelope Canyon.  I think I will limit this trip to just the GC and Sedona for time reasons, but Antelope Canyon and Monument Valley will definitely make the next trip (along with Bryce and Zion if I can).

That does it, I've heard too much about needing ultrawide -- looks like it's time to look at the 17-40 for rent.  The 16-35 II is out as it's an 82 diameter, which burns me for filters and the Lee 4x4 adaptor ring (which LensRentals.com doesn't carry, btw).  The 17-40 has a 77 dia which plays nicely in my bag, and I'm told it's a solid performer when stopped down (which I clearly will do).

Since I'm shooting liveview for most of this, I thought of renting some ultrawide Zeiss hotness, but all have odd diameters as well.  Too much trouble for a one off on such short notice, I think.

- A

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Re: Landscape tips needed on shooting the Grand Canyon
« Reply #17 on: November 14, 2012, 01:38:50 PM »
Hello again. :)

For star trails I don't use a laptop. I just set it to Bulb use a cable release and set it to lock. Then I sit back and relax and come back between 30mins to an hour later. But if others are telling you to use a laptop I would get more info on that. Maybe I'm doing it wrong. I've always been happy with my star trails though *shrug.

A proper HDR, I just meant that I've seen people use the actual Bracket mode to get three images to five images but sometimes you need more depending on. I think its easier to do it by manually and tweak the settings for each of the multiple images being used.

So what did you ever decide to do with the wide angle situation? Are you going 16-35? 17-40 or 14 prime? Very interested in knowing what your findings and choice will end up being.

Do you plan to do any birding or other wildlife photography while you're at the GC? I've been dying to get a 300mm F/2.8, I just can't afford the financial hit right now.

I read a suggestion for Sedona. I loved it there, beautiful sunsets. I wish I had more time, hopefully you take some amazing photos and share with us.

And thanks for liking my pics! I should have been more precise. The one of the castle in Madrid was done with a Grad ND and the other two were HDRs. Just wanted to show both could work but forgot to write that in.

ahsanford

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Re: Landscape tips needed on shooting the Grand Canyon
« Reply #18 on: November 14, 2012, 01:43:13 PM »

@DianeK and others that have been there:

One more thing comes to mind.  Canyons inherently have shade challenges.  The best light at sunup / sundown will come part and parcel with very large shaded areas.  Is there any credence to choosing to use more unfriendly overhead/midday light to minimize the massive dynamic challenges the shadows will bring?

That's a really broad composition question, and I appreciate it depends on what you are trying to accomplish.  But I'd like your thoughts on how to pick your exposure battles on sun vs. shade.

- A

ahsanford

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Re: Landscape tips needed on shooting the Grand Canyon
« Reply #19 on: November 14, 2012, 01:49:49 PM »
Hello again. :)

For star trails I don't use a laptop. I just set it to Bulb use a cable release and set it to lock. Then I sit back and relax and come back between 30mins to an hour later. But if others are telling you to use a laptop I would get more info on that. Maybe I'm doing it wrong. I've always been happy with my star trails though *shrug.

A proper HDR, I just meant that I've seen people use the actual Bracket mode to get three images to five images but sometimes you need more depending on. I think its easier to do it by manually and tweak the settings for each of the multiple images being used.

So what did you ever decide to do with the wide angle situation? Are you going 16-35? 17-40 or 14 prime? Very interested in knowing what your findings and choice will end up being.

Do you plan to do any birding or other wildlife photography while you're at the GC? I've been dying to get a 300mm F/2.8, I just can't afford the financial hit right now.

I read a suggestion for Sedona. I loved it there, beautiful sunsets. I wish I had more time, hopefully you take some amazing photos and share with us.

And thanks for liking my pics! I should have been more precise. The one of the castle in Madrid was done with a Grad ND and the other two were HDRs. Just wanted to show both could work but forgot to write that in.

Birding/wildlife photography is a virus that I, thankfully, have never contracted.   ;D   

Just kidding.  For me -- I can't say that enough -- big glass, it's cost/weight/trouble/etc. is not worth the high you get from the chance of shooting things that are far away.  The give to get just isn't there for me.

See other post.  Looks like 17-40 for this trip.  If my 10-22 crop experience is any indication, I only used the 16-22 end of that lens (i.e. 25-35mm FF equivalent) as the 10-16 side was comically distorted (not from the quality of the glass, but from the lens's perspective).  So I may not like the look of the 17 end of the 17-40, but the 20-24 region (as close to 24 as that seems) may be where I use it.  We'll see.  I must admit that since I went to FF my 24-70 has 99% of the time been wide enough for my needs...

...but I've never shot the Grand Canyon. 

- A

« Last Edit: November 14, 2012, 02:09:34 PM by ahsanford »

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Re: Landscape tips needed on shooting the Grand Canyon
« Reply #20 on: November 14, 2012, 02:04:33 PM »

1) Should I consider renting an ultrawide prime or zoom?  Given the wide open spaces, one might think I am missing 16-24mm on the list above.  Rent a 16-35?  Rent a 14 prime? 

2) I don't own a flash (no, I'm not kidding), but I can get my hands on a friend's 430 EX II -- how essential is a flash with landscapes?  In your answer, please consider that I'm only capable of doing rudimentary flash work at this stage (no trick shot / off-camera / radio stuff).  I will learn that someday, I'm sure, but this isn't likely to be that moment.

3) I've never done star trail work but might give it a go one night.  I'll read up on how, settings, etc., but is there any specific gear above what I'm bringing needed to do that?  Is the weight of my bag enough (15-20 lb loaded up), or should I build/buy some heavy stabilizing weights?

4) For those who have been to the GC, assuming the North Rim is closed this time of year, where is the best place on the South Rim to shoot?  I've heard that Lipan Point is a good spot shooting the Colorado from East to West, but I'm game for other great vistas if you know of any.

5) Will I have any flat horizons to use the ND grads against, or will I largely be bracketing for HDR to capture everything I am seeing?  I am opposed to HDR just for HDR's sake, but I recognize that with any bright sky I will have to make some tough exposure decisions.  Depending on my orientation to the sun, a CPL can only do so much to rein in the sky.  Have any thoughts on how to manage this best?

Never shot the Grand Canyon but landscapes quite often.
So my thoughts by the numbers;

1, The 14mm is wide, very wide. The diffrence between it and the 16-35mm at 16 is very noticable. I would be renting and taking one of the following if I were going. 24mm f/1.4L, 24mm TSE or the Zeiss 21mm. If I could afford to rent one more I would rent the 14mm or the 16-35mm but only for the very widest shots. But I probably wouldn't even take the 14mm or 16mm, In stead of super wide I would plan on doing Pano's for the areas I couldn't cover.
2, Not sure a flash is going to do much for you if you are taking pictures of the Canyon. You only need it if your subject isn't the Canyon. Instance would be your faimly in front of the Canyan and you need fill flash.
3, Sounds fun and no comment here.
4, No answer on this one either.
5, HDR used lightly is not noticable. However it is best if you have a good set of Grad ND's. I am assuming you are talking 4x6. You can hand hold or manipulate the Grad's in odd positions to darken the bright sky. It doesn't have to be just horizontal. I have used mine at odd angles when taking pictures of mountain sides and such. You can be creative with the grad filters and stack to get what you need. I think they are a must have, as well as the CPL. But the best option isn't filters. The best option for landscape is always timing, unfortunatly on vacation we often do not have that luxury.

Have fun.

ahsanford

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Re: Landscape tips needed on shooting the Grand Canyon
« Reply #21 on: November 14, 2012, 02:16:28 PM »

Never shot the Grand Canyon but landscapes quite often.
So my thoughts by the numbers;

1, The 14mm is wide, very wide. The diffrence between it and the 16-35mm at 16 is very noticable. I would be renting and taking one of the following if I were going. 24mm f/1.4L, 24mm TSE or the Zeiss 21mm. If I could afford to rent one more I would rent the 14mm or the 16-35mm but only for the very widest shots. But I probably wouldn't even take the 14mm or 16mm, In stead of super wide I would plan on doing Pano's for the areas I couldn't cover.

5, HDR used lightly is not noticable. However it is best if you have a good set of Grad ND's. I am assuming you are talking 4x6. You can hand hold or manipulate the Grad's in odd positions to darken the bright sky. It doesn't have to be just horizontal. I have used mine at odd angles when taking pictures of mountain sides and such. You can be creative with the grad filters and stack to get what you need. I think they are a must have, as well as the CPL. But the best option isn't filters. The best option for landscape is always timing, unfortunatly on vacation we often do not have that luxury.

Have fun.

Yes on 4x6 (for the ND grads, the big stopper is 4X4 as it is frame filling).  Still don't know to use ND Grads with a CPL at the same time without filter stacking weirdness, rotating the ND without rotating the CPL, etc.  So I typically use ND grads or CPL, never both simultaneously.

I'm with you on rotating the grads to counter the sky, but with hard grads, I'm not sure how to use them against uneven (and bright) skylines.  I'll darken the tops of some rock peaks, right?  I thought uneven skyline + limited movement threat (leaves moving in the wide, walking people in the frame, etc.) would mean to opt for HDR instead of ND grads, but I will try both for sure.

The big stopper, on the other hand, seems fully in play for this trip.  Besides water long exposure work, it could be killer for stretching out a cloudy sky.  Just got it, and I am fired up to try it.

- A


I looked at the Zeiss 21, but I won't have a

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Re: Landscape tips needed on shooting the Grand Canyon
« Reply #21 on: November 14, 2012, 02:16:28 PM »

PackLight

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Re: Landscape tips needed on shooting the Grand Canyon
« Reply #22 on: November 14, 2012, 02:40:54 PM »

Never shot the Grand Canyon but landscapes quite often.
So my thoughts by the numbers;

1, The 14mm is wide, very wide. The diffrence between it and the 16-35mm at 16 is very noticable. I would be renting and taking one of the following if I were going. 24mm f/1.4L, 24mm TSE or the Zeiss 21mm. If I could afford to rent one more I would rent the 14mm or the 16-35mm but only for the very widest shots. But I probably wouldn't even take the 14mm or 16mm, In stead of super wide I would plan on doing Pano's for the areas I couldn't cover.

5, HDR used lightly is not noticable. However it is best if you have a good set of Grad ND's. I am assuming you are talking 4x6. You can hand hold or manipulate the Grad's in odd positions to darken the bright sky. It doesn't have to be just horizontal. I have used mine at odd angles when taking pictures of mountain sides and such. You can be creative with the grad filters and stack to get what you need. I think they are a must have, as well as the CPL. But the best option isn't filters. The best option for landscape is always timing, unfortunatly on vacation we often do not have that luxury.

Have fun.

Yes on 4x6 (for the ND grads, the big stopper is 4X4 as it is frame filling).  Still don't know to use ND Grads with a CPL at the same time without filter stacking weirdness, rotating the ND without rotating the CPL, etc.  So I typically use ND grads or CPL, never both simultaneously.

I'm with you on rotating the grads to counter the sky, but with hard grads, I'm not sure how to use them against uneven (and bright) skylines.  I'll darken the tops of some rock peaks, right?  I thought uneven skyline + limited movement threat (leaves moving in the wide, walking people in the frame, etc.) would mean to opt for HDR instead of ND grads, but I will try both for sure.

The big stopper, on the other hand, seems fully in play for this trip.  Besides water long exposure work, it could be killer for stretching out a cloudy sky.  Just got it, and I am fired up to try it.

- A


I looked at the Zeiss 21, but I won't have a

Not sure what you mean on stacking weirdness.  I often use CPL with the 4x6 hand held, since I dont have a CPL that will mount in the Lee holder I put the CPL on and it just takes a bit of a steady hand.

For the senario you are describing I think soft grads would be real helpfull on the trip.

I wouldn't opt for HDR over any combination I can create with the camera and filters. HDR doesn't have to end up looking like the cartoonish look some people do.  Here is the deal though, do your best with the filters and then bracket a set with the filters on. That way later if you don't feel you got the effect or look with just the filters and a single picture you can always do a bit of HDR with the set. Set up takes the longest, taking an extra exposure or two takes no time.


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Re: Landscape tips needed on shooting the Grand Canyon
« Reply #23 on: November 14, 2012, 04:50:49 PM »
For star trails I don't use a laptop. I just set it to Bulb use a cable release and set it to lock. Then I sit back and relax and come back between 30mins to an hour later. But if others are telling you to use a laptop I would get more info on that. Maybe I'm doing it wrong. I've always been happy with my star trails though *shrug.
Note: I have a 5D m3 that I've been using for star work.
Note2: Sorry for the long winded details following.... :)

Modern autofocus lenses don't have in infinity stop, unlike the good 'ol days with FD lenses. As viewing stars through the viewfinder is pretty poor to work out if a faint object is in focus, the next best option is "live view" using the screen on the back of the camera. You can zoom up on a star, then manually focus. I find it fiddly, but do-able. Using the cable that normally plugs in to the camera / computers USB port (to download images) you can start up the "EOS Utility" on the laptop and select an option to drive the camera, via the laptop. This has an option for "live view" on the laptop screen, which is larger than the screen on the camera.
If your cable release has the ability, you can also take a series of "short" exposures (15 second, then wait 15 seconds - so 2 shots per min) over a period of a couple of hours, then string the images together into a movie (using After Effects, for example). A movie of stars rising over the Grand Canyon would look pretty neat :)
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filipmakowski

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Re: Landscape tips needed on shooting the Grand Canyon
« Reply #24 on: November 14, 2012, 05:52:45 PM »
Definitely worth considering Antelope, I was there just before noon and was able to capture the sun streaming in.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/filipmakowski/6158291826/#in/set-72157627571758317

The biggest challenge is that at any time when the sun is coming in you have over 200 people in the canyon across 10+ guided groups. I had to take this photo handheld at ISO1600, f2.8 with the 16-35mm II (which I have never found to lack sharpness) as there was absolutely no time or space to put up a tripod.

Suggestion for Grand Canyon: hang around after the sun sets, you may be able to get some great shots with iridescent clouds. When I was there everyone had returned to their hotels just after the sun had set, missing the opportunity for what turned out the best part of the evening.
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DianeK

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Re: Landscape tips needed on shooting the Grand Canyon
« Reply #25 on: November 14, 2012, 06:40:29 PM »
First image is Lipan Point, second is Navajo Point

Nice shots.  I've noticed a blue shift like yours on the distant horizon mountains in my photos as well. It is certainly what my eyes see, so these shots are well rendered.

Can you walk me through what causes that blue cast (physically, that is)?  I'm guessing it's diffraction of light through so much air (perhaps that's nonsense), but from a photog perspective, is that something you wish to capture, wish to filter out, wish to shift to true black shadows, etc.?  What are the composition and post-processing considerations for this?   Would I see a similar cast if I went with the longer tele?

Just curious.

- A

Thank you.
There was a general haze that day which is what I think caused the distant blue haze. Twas a very frustrating day for that reason.  I don't know if a UV filter would have helped or not because I don't use them. :-\

DianeK

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Re: Landscape tips needed on shooting the Grand Canyon
« Reply #26 on: November 14, 2012, 06:56:55 PM »

@DianeK and others that have been there:

One more thing comes to mind.  Canyons inherently have shade challenges.  The best light at sunup / sundown will come part and parcel with very large shaded areas.  Is there any credence to choosing to use more unfriendly overhead/midday light to minimize the massive dynamic challenges the shadows will bring?

That's a really broad composition question, and I appreciate it depends on what you are trying to accomplish.  But I'd like your thoughts on how to pick your exposure battles on sun vs. shade.

- A

I'm afraid I'm not a very "thoughtful" shooter.  The only plan so to speak I had that day was to be at the east end of the canyon on Desert View Drive so I could have the setting sun on my viewpoints (although the haze on the horizon really complicated things).  When we were down about a mile on Kaibab trail it was noon, so I just did the best I could with what I had even attempting to get some detail on this raven in the harsh noon light  ::)

kaihp

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Re: Landscape tips needed on shooting the Grand Canyon
« Reply #27 on: November 18, 2012, 05:58:54 AM »
I'll link to an earlier response I made to someone else asking about the Grand Canyon and Antelope Canyon areas.  If you want me to email you the mini-Antelope Canyon guide I mention there, feel free to PM me.  I may even be able to fit it into a PM, but it was a bit long.

As the asker of the thread that Cali is refering to, I can only +1 on his recommendations.

I used my 17-40mm primarily on the 5D3 and exclusively for Upper/Lower Antelope as well as Horseshoe Bend.

I had great use of grad filters for 6am-9.30am shots I took at the Horseshoe. Oh, and bring a (big) tripod to lower antelope.

Personally, I was underwhelmed by GC - but then again, I had been on an 8-day streak of Valley of Fire, Zion, Bryce, Grand Staircase, Torrey, Capitol Reef, Canyonlands, Arches, Needles overlook (with a hailstorm!), Natural Bridges, Monument Valley, Antelopes, Horseshoe bend and then the south rim of GC.

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Re: Landscape tips needed on shooting the Grand Canyon
« Reply #27 on: November 18, 2012, 05:58:54 AM »

Mika

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Re: Landscape tips needed on shooting the Grand Canyon
« Reply #28 on: November 18, 2012, 07:42:25 AM »
If the haze bothers you, I think there is one comparatively cheap option to try. You can try diminishing that effect by using a circular polarizer. What is harder to know is how much difference it makes, as this depends on the scene.

It is not like I'd typically nitpick about this stuff, but the scientific term for cause of the blue haze is scattering, not diffraction. Other than that, the explanation was correct, the blue haze is caused by stratospheric scattering, and since blue is the shortest wavelength, it is the most affected.

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Re: Landscape tips needed on shooting the Grand Canyon
« Reply #29 on: November 18, 2012, 10:08:49 AM »
My 2 cents based on my last trip to Grand canyon and Page

1) Yes. I missed a UWA on several occasions, especially the horseshoe bend in Page. I'd get a 16-35 rather than a 17-40 personally, since I had the latter (but on a 7D) and neither the colors nor the sharpness (at f/8 or f/11) were that compelling, and no experience with the 14mm.

2) I'd borrow that flash if you are taking pictures of people. The harsh sunlight necessitates fill flash and the 5DIII doesn't have a pop-up. I'd get it- I needed it.

3) Your bag should be sufficient, especially since the 70-200 will likely be in your bag and not on your camera at this point. It gets very windy and sometimes worried me.

4) Already answered above.

5) You will have plenty of flat horizons, and you will need those grad NDs.

Couple other things: The glass horseshoe is overrated and overpriced in my opinion. Get a monopod for the antelopes- it gets too crowded and too rushed for proper tripod usage, unless you are comfortable running with it and setting it up quickly (and if the tripod is carbon-fiber).

Happy shooting!

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Re: Landscape tips needed on shooting the Grand Canyon
« Reply #29 on: November 18, 2012, 10:08:49 AM »