Day 21 - Grand Canyon NP to Las Vegas  
    Before the dawn at Yaki Point, Grand Canyon South Rim    
Minolta XD7 with 24mm f/2.8 MC VFC Rokkor Film: Fuji Velvia

On the morning of Day 21 I woke up excited, as after the sunrise the previous day I knew I would be in for a visual treat. After much research before the trip, I planned to shoot the sunrise from Yaki Point, a viewing area near to Mather Point, but not nearly as popular or crowded.

I arose before first light and made my way by shuttle bus to Yaki Point just as the first glimmer of light along the horizon began to show. With no-one else around, I was able to shoot from different positions, moving my gear to make the most of the changing conditions.

In these circumstances, the use of graduated neutral density filters is absolutely essential if you want to get any detail in the foreground. The light was barely bright enough to see my footing, but through bracketing my exposures and using the grad NDs to balance the light I was able to get some exposures with which I was quite pleased.

The use of the graduated tobacco filter gives this shot an evocative sense of warmth.
Minolta XD7 with 200mm f/2.8 MD Tele Rokkor Film: Fuji Velvia

Yaki Point has a great view for dawn shots into the Canyon, and unlike some other places such as Mather Point and Yavapai Point you can capture images including some foreground detail, which adds to the depth of the shots and enables you to create images that are a little different to everyone else's Grand Canyon photos.

The light of dawn starts to touch the landscape.
Minolta XD7 with 24mm f/2.8 MC VFC Rokkor Film: Fuji Velvia

Yaki Point turned out to be an inspired choice. In the end only one family group joined me there, unlike Mather Point which was crowded with observers. Sometimes it pays to get up a little earlier and get the shuttle bus away from the crowds.

The view West from Yaki Point, lit by the first rays from the sun
Minolta XD7 with 24mm f/2.8 MC VFC W.Rokkor Film: Fuji Velvia

Yaki Point was a great place to shoot from. I walked out onto the rocks right at the cliff edge and got some great shots, but even better than that was the feeling of communing with nature that I got being by myself, standing on the edge of a chasm and just soaking in the glory of being alive. I live for times like this.

The beauty of the canyon is sometimes in the little things.
Minolta X-570 with 50mm f/1.2 MD Rokkor-X Film: Fuji Superia Reala

My second dawn at the Grand Canyon was just as spectacular as the first, but in a different way. Yesterday the dawn was the first time I had seen the Canyon, so the size and majesty of it was quite overwhelming. It was wonderful, but being in such a crowded location meant I didn't get the amazing feeling I got being virtually alone at Yaki Point. I am quite certain I could spend a month at the Grand Canyon and never tire of seeing the dawn.

The full majesty of the Canyon finally displayed. The view from Yavapai Point.
Minolta X-570 with 24mm f/2.8 MC VFC W.Rokkor Film: Fuji Superia Reala

After the sun was fully illuminating the Canyon I packed up my gear and caught the shuttle bus back to the Village. I was yet to see the famous Mather Point, so I walked down to have a look. Mather point is a big observation point quite near to the village, and one that is extremely popular due to its proximity to the Yavapai lodges and trailer park.

Can you think of a better place to sit and rest? Mather Point, Grand Canyon.
Minolta X-570 with 50mm f/1.2 MD Rokkor-X Film: Fuji Superia Reala

Mather Point is a really good place to visit during the day, as well as at dawn. You can certainly get a great feeling of the size of the Canyon as it juts right out from the edge, and there is a precipitous drop over the edge!

Mather Point observation area..
Minolta X-570 with 35mm f/1.8 MD Rokkor-X Film: Fuji Superia Reala

I walked out onto Mather Point and took one of the few photos with me in it from the entire journey. Thank goodness for a tripod and a self-timer! From my calm stance you would never guess I had to run over to reach the railing within 10 seconds.

Sometimes a tripod and self timer really comes in handy. Mather Point, Grand Canyon.
Minolta X-570 with 35mm f/1.8 MD Rokkor-X Film: Fuji Superia Reala

The rest of Day 21, covering our drive to Vegas and our first night there will be posted soon. I hope you can visit again soon to see the Vegas lights!

Next - Day 21 Continued
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