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.
This is where I wrote The Light Lies Down passage after our escape from Phantom Ranch. The title phrase is borrowed from a Genesis song which tells of the passage by the protagonist through an alien landscape — Times Square. Our mood in the moment of escape through Bright Angel Canyon followed by this scene when we emerged at the river’s edge made me think of the song.
Edvard Munch-like apparitions referenced in the book fed the disorienting endogenous effects generated from the cold and the drama.
Colorado River rocks like the ones specified by Mary Colter to build Phantom Ranch, as as told by Jeff in the novel.
Chaos compression in 50mm from the Canyon Floor near the Bright Angel Trail.
On The River Trail near Phantom Ranch. Professionals demand I crop out the patch of sky. I regret there was not more to show.
On The River Trail
Likened to Fyodor’s “House of the Dead” in my book. This walk along the Colorado on the Bright Angel was impossibly spooky leading to all sorts of bad thoughts of which chapter and verse appear in the book.
From The River Trail along the Colorado leaving Phantom Ranch. Love those clouds.
Young man on whom I based “Loren from Paris” in THE CANYON CRAWL novel. In real life, he’s from Luxembourg. He darted through the Canyon popping up everywhere we went. His dexterity and agility were unfathomable to us. But having hiked in the Alps myself, I should have not been surprised.
The sparkling steely Colorado from The Bright Angel Trail.
Quiet and majestic. You can hear yourself think.