Grand Canyon Trip Photography Tips?

Question by tammy w: Grand Canyon Trip Photography Tips?

II and my husband are going to a few “photo opp” areas and would like to know the best way to take some pictures. I have a Nikon D40 with a telephoto and standard lens. I was reading that filters maybe useful. Would it be worth the money to get some, and which ones would be useful if they are recommended?

We are planning to go to a few parks; the Valley of Fire, Zion, Bryce and Grand Canyon. If there are recommendations on what to brush up on, or sites that maybe useful, it would be appreciated!! We are also staying in Las Vegas, so tips for fun pictures there would also be useful. Thank you!!

I’m not sure if we will have this opportunity again for some time, so it would be great to get some nice pictures! Thank you for your help!

Best answer:

Answer by Bernd
Your camera and lens kit should be fine. I would take a good tripod also and a remote shutter release or learn to use the timer for group shots and to avoid camera shake at slow shutter speeds. A polaroid filter might be useful to control canyon haze. Frame some of canyon shots with people, without people, sometimes add a foreground object like a big rock, or a green bush, to add scale.

Also think about visiting Monument Valley, Goosenecks of the San Juan, Canyonlands National Park near Moab Utah. Maybe read an Edward Abbey book or two. he wrote fiction and non-fiction. The Monkey Wrench Gang is a classic.

Go to the AAA and ask for the Indian Country map.

Have fun.

What do you think? Answer below!

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6 Responses to Grand Canyon Trip Photography Tips?

  1. Indy says:

    You definitely need a circular polarizing filter. It’ll give you richer colors in the sky and the rocks, and it will cut down on the glare. The best photos I’ve gotten at the Grand Canyon were all taken in the late afternoon or early evening. Early in the day is good, too.

    I haven’t been to the Skywalk yet, but if you’re brave enough to go out on it you could probably get some really nice pics there. If you have enough time, consider heading south to Sedona. It’s really beautiful there. 🙂

    I don’t agree with the suggestion to take high capacity memory cards. My biggest cards are only 4GB, and they hold about 200 pics when I shoot RAW and JPEG. I usually use 2GB cards, which hold about a hundred pics. I’d rather take several memory cards and have to switch them out than have all my pictures on one card that goes bad on me… especially on an awesome vacation like yours!

  2. Picture Taker says:

    Polarizing filter. Nuf said.

  3. Paul KJ Harris says:

    Huge capacity memory cards!!! Its the Grand Canyon – you will take a LOT of pictures, right?

    DEFINITELY get a circular polarizer filter. Make sure they fit your lens or lenses – you may need two different sizes. You may also want the type of filter that darkens only the sky – a graduated filter – but definitely get the circular polarizer filter – its one of the most useful.

  4. Shutterbug says:

    Like the others said, definitely get a polarizing filter. Other than that, decent camera and a tripod, and you’re pretty much set.

    Also: GO TO ANTELOPE CANYON. I’ve always wanted to go but haven’t yet. I’ve heard it’s a bit of a trek out there, but it’s got some of the most beautiful and photogenic scenery on Earth.

  5. EDWIN says:

    The first item you need is a tripod. The Benro “Travel Angel” series should be sufficient. I found these two models at B&H –

    A-2690 which extends to 5′-2” and weighs 4 pounds. $ 200.00

    A-0691 which extends to 5′-0” and weighs 3 pounds. $ 237.00

    I consider a tripod as mandatory for good landscape pictures. I never leave home without my tripod. Never.

    You will also need a circular polarizer which will darken a blue sky and enhance colors as well as remove/reduce glare/reflections from rock, water, sand, snow. Brands such as B+W, Tiffen and Hoya are worth the price. If you have the usual 18-55mm zoom lens you’ll need 52mm diameter filters. You’ll have to check your other lenses for the filter size. Its usually on the front of the lens. B&H is also a good place to buy your filters.

    I’d also include a Skylight filter for each lens which should be left on the lens except when using your circular polarizer.

    Here is why you’ll want a circular polarizer:

    Here is why you’ll want a Skylight filter:

    The hour after sunrise and the hour before sunset will be the best times to make your pictures at the Canyon or anywhere else.

    For night pictures of Las Vegas your tripod will be mandatory. I use and recommend this site for low-light exposures: I used the Scene ‘Distant view of city skyline or floodlit buildings’ and ISO 200 for these pictures of the Louisville, Kentucky skyline as seen from the Indiana shore of the Ohio River. 100mm lens @ f11, exposure of 30 seconds. 200mm lens @ f11, exposure of 30 seconds.

    Additional tips:

    1) Shoot at your camera’s highest resolution.
    2) Use ISO 100 for all your landscape pictures.
    3) Shoot in NEF (RAW) + JPEG basic.
    4) Use your tripod for all landscape pictures.
    5) Use Aperture Priority when shooting landscapes. This allows you to have control over the aperture and Depth of Field (DOF).

    If you aren’t sure what shooting in RAW means these sites will help you:

    If you aren’t familiar with what DOF is and how to control it this site will help you:

    There are only 3 factors that affect your DOF:
    1) The focal length of the lens.
    2) The f-stop (aka aperture) used.
    3) The subject distance.

    At the DOF Master site you can use the DOF Calculator to figure DOF for any combination of the 3 factors imaginable.

    To maximize your DOF use the 18mm end of your 18-55mm zoom. Set the aperture to f16 and focus on a subject at 5′-0” and your DOF will be from 2′-0” in front of your camera to infinity – as far as you can see. Unfortunately, there is no Distance Scale on the lens so you’ll have to improvise a bit. With your camera on the tripod measure a spot 5′-0” in front of the camera and have your husband stand there. You can then either manually focus until he’s sharp in the viewfinder or use the auto focus and then either turn the AF off or use the Focus Lock. Now you’re ready to compose and make your picture. By using the camera’s Self-Timer you and your husband can stand 3′ in front of the camera and you’ll be in focus as will everything behind you as far as you can see. Always try to include something of interest in the foreground when shooting landscapes. This adds depth to your pictures.

  6. Chip Bronski says:

    I love the Grand Canyon and have taken lots of photos of it. I’m not an expert but I did find this article useful:

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