From the Canyon floor near Phantom Ranch, morning. Professional landscape photographers shun blue sky as “uninteresting.” I shun their approach due to being unprofessional. Software has become indispensable for correcting system aberrations and settings errors. My expertise begins and ends with Lightroom’s AI Auto-correct. Commercial grade landscape photography is a product of arcane camera settings followed by digital painting where clouds magically appear. The final product bares little resemblance to the moment, but it’s the standard process now. I took the opposite approach. Fine art landscape photography requires discipline, skill, stamina, execution, and the right gear. I was deficient in every category, and spent my time trying to keep from falling while shooting Buena Vista with a Nikon D5100 — a decent camera which did not make me feel conspicuously out of my league. Ditto the ancient Sigma 50mm prime lens. Shooting the Canyon properly is not practical for the unfunded non-professional. Training for the art is substantial, then after getting in shape for hiking you’ll discover the trails are remote, dangerous, and inhospitable. Death waits patiently around every bend. My rule of thumb? From your twenties-on, each decade halves the distance you can hike in Grand Canyon. By the time you reach your fifties, your hiking should be confined to the Rim Trail with the other tourists, and then if and only if you are in tip-top physical condition, with zero health problems.

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