Star Dance Over the Grand Canyon



Grand Canyon National Park, AZ USA

Yesterday evening I foolishly departed from a trail on the south rim of the Grand Canyon, lowered my self, tripod and camera down a series of outcroppings on the cliff face to a ledge below, and then made my way across to the outside of a spire that had an unobstructed view of the canyon. My idea was to do a time-lapse sequence of the sunset on the canyon, and then transition to a timelapse of the stars over the canyon.

My wife, who is half my size and twice as agile, rightly pointed out how dangerous it would be to go back along the ledge and scramble back up the wall at night by lamp light. So we compromised, I shot the sunset time-lapse until the valley was in shadow, and then we started our way back across and up.

There was still plenty of light and we took our time, slowly making our way back and handing off gear where needed. Once we climbed back over the top we smiled and mutually agreed that I'd had a pretty reckless idea. I promised not to do anything that foolhardy again, until the next time that I do something that fool hardy again.

So I was left with a need for a new location for the time lapse of the stars over the canyon. We headed up to the watch tower on the far east side of the Grand Canyon National Park to shoot the stars.

I did some test exposures while I was setting up for the time lapse and I discovered that the last bit of light was faintly illuminating the canyon below. To the naked eye the canyon looked completely dark, but during the long exposure to capture the stars the camera picked up enough light to reveal the canyon walls. I created this panorama of the stars dancing over the Grand Canyon before starting the time-lapse.

Just left of center in this image you can see the mighty Colorado River several miles away. In the scope of the Grand Canyon the river looks tiny, almost fragile. Yet the length, width and depth of the entire canyon has been carved by the Colorado River over the span of millions of years.

Gradually the rock of the canyon gave way to the persistant will of the water, eventually creating a canyon that is up to 18 miles wide and penetrates up to a mile deep into the core of the earth.

This seems to me to be remarkably similar to how my tiny wife's soft persistant will eventually penetrates my thick headed ideas...