Gallery: An Elemental Look into The Depths of Grand Canyon

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Last school year, we hosted and became family with a 16-year old girl from Ukraine who wanted nothing more than to see Grand Canyon. I've written about her a few times already, but because this website increasingly gets more readers every day (and we're grateful for it), I feel like I need to preface this properly. Her name is Ania and she lived with us for almost a year (more). Today, Ania attends a university in Lithuania studying English and business. During her spring semester here, she took a guitar class and a photography class. Truthfully, she taught me a lot about photography. And I taught tried to teach her how to rock a C7 chord, but she resisted trimming her fingernails.

Photography class started with the history of image making, so it was weeks before she came home with a pinhole camera and a project to shoot. When the class moved on to 35mm cameras, she calculated and considered every single frame she wanted to capture because, if you remember the fundamentals of film, she had just one roll of 24 frames to work with on the first project and she'd have to wait days before viewing the results on this thing they call "paper." I know, it's crazy. "Leading lines" was the theme, which is a classic assignment. We went downtown where she shot automobile headlight trails at night, and pillars on the city hall building. She wasn't quite satisfied, so at home she shot guitar strings, piano keys, and the strands of a hammock. Working with her to find things and places to shoot was beyond fun for me because she imparts the raw, exuberant energy only a 16-year old girl can. She wanted her shots to be perfect, or at least perfect to what she envisioned. That's good because you can't achieve a goal unless you set one.

I enjoyed following along with her assignments and seeing the black and white results. So much so that I decided I want to do more of chasing themes and shooting in black and white. When you shoot for black and white output, you learn to look for obvious yet easily overlooked elements. The contrasts, the bright light, the dark shadows, and so on. It's a change from snapping fun memories in color, or looking for the toothy smile or bright blue eyes. Better? Worse? Neither. Just different. But definitely good.

Because it was Ania's photography class and her love of Grand Canyon I'll start by sharing some of what I've done at the Canyon. The high contrast of monochrome strips away some of the best of Grand Canyon's surprises, but also seems to open a window to her immensity and longevity. It's not easy to convey a 15 million-year old canyon in a photograph. But I think black and white tells a side of the story we don't hear very frequently. 11 photos of the wonder that is Grand Canyon:


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# Ania 2011-10-13 03:29
Ow I just dont have words to express my excitement! It is so dramatic and deep in black-&-white! Gorgeous!
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John McClain
+4 / 0
# John McClain 2011-10-15 16:37
Really beautiful shots. Did you also shoot film? I know what you mean about the light and dark after cruising through Mexican Hat and Monument Valley recently at sunset and again at sunrise. It's a whole different feel to shoot for the shadows.
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+1 / 0
# Mark 2011-10-19 22:16
No, I did not shoot film. The shame! A good portion of the romance of shooting film, certainly B&W, is processing the film yourself. I just don't have the stuff for it.
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