Rebecca Wilks

Rebecca Wilks; Photographer, Teacher, Yarnellian, Do-Gooder

Monday, June 28, 2021

Backlight and Smoke

Crepuscular rays at sunset, Desert View, Grand Canyon

I had a quick trip to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.  I like the occasional stay at Desert View Campground.  It's still a campground (too much humanity), but has the advantage of easy walking access to a number of lovely canyon vistas. This place used to be first-come, but this season they made the change to a reservation system.  I'll roll with it, planning further ahead.  For the record, though, there are always 10% or so of the sites that are not used, so the reservation system does create some waste.

We're still waiting on the start of our monsoon rains this year.  The pervasive smell of smoke is a potent reminder of the land's vulnerability and frankly it sets me on edge a bit.  

Smoky sunset at Desert View, Grand Canyon

That being said, smoke can create some lovely effects, warming and saturating sunrises and sunsets and providing atmospheric effects and a sense of depth in photographs. 

Atmospherics at Grandview Point, Grand Canyon

All of this was particularly impressive on my last morning.  I woke up in the middle of the night finding that the smell of smoke was much stronger.  I stuck to the plan, packing up in the predawn dark (sorry about that, campground neighbors) and scooting to Lipan and eventually Grandview Point for a new angle on sunrise. 

Smoky backlight, Grand Canyon Arizona

I've never seen these stunning conditions before.  This odd combination of beauty and tragedy reminds me of the photography of Daniel Beltra, who does some amazing things with this intersection.  Check out his Gulf oil spill images.

I could still smell the smoke on my clothes after the 3-hour drive home.

Morning at Watson Lake Arizona

Speaking of backlight, here's an image from Watson Lake in Prescott Arizona, my home turf.

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