The Canon EOS 5D Mark II is a master at the Grand Canyon

by planetmitch4 Comments

planet5D friend Tony_e posted this in our Canon EOS 5D Mark II forums, but it is so awesome, I decided it needed more attention! Thanks Tony!
Some shots from a recent road trip out west (from DC) that included the Grand Canyon

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My favorite place to watch the sun set at the Grand Canyon South Rim is at Deserts View. At this view point you can look east over the Painted Desert over the Navajo Indian Reserve, or West to see the sun set spectacularly through the Canyons.

In my opinion it's the best place to see it in Arizona, but I am sure other people have their preferences!

This particular view, over the Painted Desert, gives you a great view of the very east end of the Grand Canyon and the greatest view of the Colorado River from the top of the rim. Again, just like my prior photos of this place, once the sun starts to set, the walls of the Canyon are illuminated with all these fabulous colors.

This photo is taken just as the sun had set and I left the shutter open for a around 30 seconds to bring in the reds from the sky, and you can just see them creeping in from the left of the shot. At this point, it had gotten a little darker but there was still enough light to make the shot work for me. Also it's great at this point as most tourists leave as soon as the sun passes under the horizon so you are left with a very peaceful scene. Usually it will be just you and other photographers there…

This was shot with my Canon 5D mark II, EF 24-70mm F/2.8L and a 0.9 Graduated ND filter.

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I remember a Travel documentary I saw about 5 years ago on the BBC and it was asking people if they had one word to describe the Grand Canyon, what would that word be?

Most people's choice? “Awesome”.

It's very true. Every time I visit the Grand Canyon I will always overhear people who wonder to the edge, take a moment to look over the vast canon and then exclaim, “Awesome”. I admit that I have done the same thing.

But my favorite thing about this place is it's color. Like many of the famous wonders of the world, the Taj Mahal in Agra, India, the Pyramids in Giza, Egypt, etc, every hour in the Grand Canyon is a different experience as it is always changing color depending on where the sun is. The colors in the Grand Canyon are incredible unique especially at the ‘magic hours' for Photography. I prefer the sunrise over the sunset in the Grand Canyon. It has this magical feel to it and everyone who has braved the cold and early hour to see it will just sit in silence and watch this great event. In fact I think it's the only time the Grand Canyon's tourists are quiet!

The above photo was taken at 5.30am just before the sun was about to rise over the horizon and these beautiful purples, magentas, blues, oranges and reds came together for this incredible mix. What you see here is pretty much what I saw there. I pumped up some of the vibrancy in the photo as it wasn't as accurate as I saw at that moment.

If you are at the Grand Canyon for an overnight stay, it's a must that you get up at sun rise to witness the beauty.

This was taken with my Canon 5D mk II with a 24-70mm F/2.8L with an aperture of F/8 (anything higher else was leaving glare on the image) for 0.4 second to grab this exposure.

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This is one of my (early) favorites from my recent road trip. While technically not a great photo due to the overexposed sky, I just love the smoke from the controlled fires rolling through the canyons being lit up by the setting sun. It was just my wife and I (+ camera of course) at this spot and it was quite magical for us both.

Shot on my Canon 5D mkII and the 24-70mm F/2.8L with a 0.9 graduated ND filter that gave some color and definition to the very bright (and still bright) sky. I find the cokin grad ND filters definitely give off a very red hue to sun set photos. I used F/6.3 to minimize the glare through the filter and glass

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Ok, I admit, a little bit of Photoshopping was done here. Basically I had taken a 300 second exposure of the stars just as the sun was rising, but during that time, a car drove right in front of me (lights on causing an awful streak and flare in my photo). The stars came out fine, but the foreground was less than satisfactory. So, I took an exposure of the foreground without the car and combined the two images.

Not exactly how I wanted to do it as I don't like to do too much post production (get it right in camera etc.), but this was the image I wanted. Also, excuse the awful JPEG compression. RAW looks lovely!

This was shot with my Canon 5D mark II, EF 24-70mm F/2.8L and a 0.9 Graduated ND filter.

Please do not use these image without my consent. It is copyrighted – Thank you!


  1. Thanks!

    I used Cokin as I managed to get a set of 3 (0.3, 0.6, and 0.9) at a really good price. I don't know which is better, but I am very happy with the results from the Cokin set. They did tend to give the image a redish hue, it's easily managed if you shoot RAW.

  2. Saw the post on your blog and now a feature on planet5d, cool! These pictures are very good and inspiring. I just wish you made some clips of the sun rising too!

    I use Cokin filters too. Lee filters are just too expensive and I couldnt see the difference between the two.

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