This July 18th I shared a few slides from New Mexico in 1987 with you. After my friend Sean and I could no longer see Shiprock in the background, we entered northern Arizona. We decided to stop at the Grand Canyon before heading to our ultimate destination, Los Angeles.
After arriving in the park, we noticed a thick haze of smog, possibly from coal powered generating plants in the general vicinity. That was the opinion of a random tourist we overheard at one of the scenic overlooks at the park. The smog greatly hindered my plans to shoot dramatic slides.
My Canon AE-1 was loaded with Fujichrome ISO 100. I placed an additional UV filter to the standard lens to try to compensate for the heavy haze. I knew any overall shots of the canyon would be unacceptable, so closer shots and details would have to suffice for this trip.
Although the Grand Canyon’s viewing conditions were much less than optimal, there were ways of using the pollution to photographic advantage. The most obvious technique was perspective layering of the scenes by double or triple framing.
There was at least one ceremonial kiva of the type we had seen earlier in New Mexico. The examples in the other state were more impressive than the one at Grand Canyon National Park.
The smog did not keep tourists away. Every scenic overlook was crowded with people from around the world. Overcast cloudiness added to the smog to make the view flat and drab.
I tried to compose a cliché postcard scene. Under better circumstances, the view would have been spectacular not muted. The lovers or honeymooners weren’t going to move any time soon, so they became part of the framing.
It pays to be patient. We were finally able to find a viewing position right behind a railing. A few moments later, the Sun broke through the overcast nearby and illuminated the foreground. That was as good as it would get.
The Blue Jay of Happiness likes this quote from actor Nolan Gould: “I don’t believe that anyone can see the Grand Canyon area for themselves and not know that we have to do everything we can to protect it for future generations.”