Bad Geometry

Morning on the Canyon Floor along The River Trail. Grand Canyon is a nightmare for landscape photographers, I suspect. They toil under the influence of geometry, patterns, and math. None of those things are to be found in Grand Canyon. Which is why I loved shooting it. I regret being inexperienced in the art of photography. The natural world merits so much more. I wish I knew then, what I know now.


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.

‘The Light Lies Down’

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.