In a previous blog post, I had written about how the plan for photography trip to Arizona. This post is to document the actual trip to Arizona and to give you recommendations for what works exceedingly well what doesn’t work so well and to give you a list of the Places to see in Arizona.

Grand Canyon National Park

For this particular trip we knew we were going to be spending a significant amount of time in the Grand Canyon. We wanted to capture sunrises and sunsets and the different moods of the canyon.  So we flew into Phoenix late on the first day and stayed overnight in Phoenix.  The next day we drove through Flagstaff and up to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.  We stayed in the cute clean town of Tusayan and it worked perfectly as our hub for our day trips.  Tusayan had all the services that you would need to explore and enjoy the park.

Places to see in Arizona South Rim Grand Canyon

Sunset South Rim Grand Canyon National Park

In general spring is an incredible time to travel to Arizona because for the most part you will be missing the crowds. That being said I was surprised how many people were at the Grand Canyon National Park. The park can certainly handle many many people very well so it was not a problem at all but I just expected the place to be empty.  It was not.

Places to see in Arizona South Rim Grand Canyon

Sunset South Rim Grand Canyon National Park BW

As a photographer trying to capture sunrises and sunsets is always interesting to have some clouds reflecting the Sun during those periods. But in a desert often times you’re going to get clear blue skies so you have to be able to work with both conditions.  One thing to keep in mind is even in the clear skies there will still be a fair amount of haze due to the dust and particles that are in the desert. You can use that to your advantage to capture the amazing shots of range after range after range of hilltops in the glowing light.

Places to see in Arizona South Rim Grand Canyon

South Rim Grand Canyon National Park Moods of the Canyon

Right in the park and easily accessible for sunrises and sunsets are Mather Point, Yavapai Point and a great place for a sunset is Hopi Point. The point that I actually love the most is called Desert View and is a little bit farther on the east side of the park.  You can drive there yourself but be sure to get there early enough before sunrise or sunset so you have access to parking before it fills up.

Places to see in Arizona South Rim Grand Canyon

Sunrise South Rim Grand Canyon National Park

Of course you’ll have to visit Moran point. It’s a gorgeous view and site where the great painter Thomas Moran spent much of his time painting the canyon.

Places to see in Arizona South Rim Grand Canyon Moran Point

Moran Point South rim Grand Canyon National Park

The great Painter Thomas Moran

Moran Point

Be sure to do some hiking into the canyon it doesn’t have to be a rigorous hike but just doing some hiking into the canyon will completely change your perspective of the canyon. It gives you a more intimate view of the canyon and it helps you to see how incredibly grand it actually is.  Plenty of water and some snacks and just simply enjoy yourself hiking at your own pace. Again, try to take this part as slow as you can and just absorb the experience.

Places to see in Arizona South Rim Grand Canyon

Hiking South Rim Grand Canyon Bright Angel Trail

One tourist attraction we really enjoyed is outside the park in the South Rim was the National Geographic IMAX Theater.  It gives a great view of the Grand Canyon but it also tells a wonderful story about the Powell expedition into the canyon. How to get a buy one get one for half price ticket deal to get in to the theater and it certainly is worth your time.

Places to see in Arizona South Rim Grand Canyon Map

Map of South Rim Grand Canyon National Park

Horseshoe Bend Page Arizona

The next part of the quest required us to start moving towards Page Arizona.   On the route to Page is the iconic Horseshoe Bend location.  Horseshoe bend is a giant 180 degree turn in the Colorado River but you get to view this from a very high vantage point. It makes for an incredibly memorable scene worthy of great landscape photography.

Places to see in Arizona Horseshoe Bend Page AZ

Iconic Horseshoe Bend Page Arizona

This scene is one of the most important pictures that I wanted to capture on this trip.  It is just that moving or that iconic of a scene that I just had to capture it.  Sunrise time frame is very difficult to capture this because of the incredibly deep shadows that will be in the valley.  Sunset would also be very difficult. But if the Sun is setting perfectly with many clouds in the sky so the Sun is actually reflecting light under the clouds the light will be less bright and the shadows won’t be quite so deep so that would give a great opportunity to capture a great image.  I went back to this location several times just to make sure I had captured the perfect image.

Places to see in Arizona Horseshoe Bend Page AZ

Iconic Horseshoe Bend Page Arizona

This particular image was captured in the late afternoon so the Sun was still pretty high in the sky there were enough clouds to reflect into the water producing a wonderful effect.

For this particular image I mounted the camera on the tripod in a portrait position as opposed to a landscape position I knew I was going to be bracketing images and I was going to be panning.  So I pointed the camera to the left side of the canyon and I clicked off three pictures dark medium and light, then I panned to the right towards the middle of the canyon and clicked off 3 more pictures dark medium and light and finally I panned to the right side of the canyon clicked off 3 more images dark medium and.  When I got back to the studio I first merged each of the three bracketed images into one image merging all the details of the darker areas and the lighter areas of the image and I did the same thing to each of the three groups of bracketed images.  Finally I stitched together the three merged images using Photoshop stitching capabilities.  Do some final editing in cleanup of that image but it came out exactly how I was envisioning before the trip even started.

Lake Powell

While we were in the Page Arizona area we explored to Lake Powell.  Lake Powell was created by a damn in the Colorado River at the region to the north east of the Grand Canyon.

Places to see in Arizona Lake Powell Page Arizona

Lake Powell Page Arizona

The lake is named after John Wesley Powell who was the first leader of an expedition 1869 on the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon.

Lake Powell is like an oasis in the desert.  It’s an incredible Resort playground filled with boats and vitality right smack dab in the middle of the desert.  It is a gorgeous must see location but I must admit it’s slightly odd to see it off season when it’s basically empty.

Antelope Canyon

Places to see in Arizona Antelope Canyon Page Arizona

Of course if you’re anywhere close to Page Arizona you must take part in the Antelope Canyon photography tour.  From all the research and reading that I could find, it appears the North Canyon is the most interesting Photography to her to take.  I booked a photography tour through adventurous Antelope Canyon photo tours at www.NavajoAntelopeCanyon.com.  Organization actually owns a few canyons around the main Antelope Canyon so you get to tour those first before you go into Antelope Canyon.

Places to see in Arizona Antelope Canyon Page Arizona

The guides are Native Americans but they’re also photographers they know the area exceedingly well and they take charge of the group.

Places to see in Arizona Antelope Canyon Page Arizona

The group that I was with was only five photographers and it was great to be in that small of a group. When you finally get to the main antelope Canyon you are thrust into a crowd of hundreds of other people.  The photographer tours do have priority over the views and they do block off other people from the views while you are shooting but your time frame is very short and I must say it’s a little bit stressful.  That being said it’s still worth it because the views are so incredibly gorgeous. Just be prepared for the stress be prepared to move very quickly, compose your shots even before you are setting up your tripod just be prepared to think quickly.

Sedona Arizona

Sedona is one of those places where you could probably spend several weeks photographing. It’s one thing to do a little research of the locations but it’s a completely different thing to figure out what is the right time to attempt to capture these locations what is the best flight and how do you wait around till you have the right clouds etc.  It would be best to live there for a season or two to capture the best images. Most of the best images are actually going to come out while on a hike close to the actual views.  There are so many things to see here and there are so many incredible views.  My recommendation to you is planned as much time as you can plan and an initial true or maybe on a Pink Jeep tour or something and then plan to get back into the outback hiking or on an ATV. King will be the best way to see things slowly and carefully and to actually experience the beauty as you’re trying to capture it.

Places to see in Arizona Sedona Arizona

While we were in Sedona my son and I rented an ATV and got into the outback and it was the most memorable most amazing part of the trip.  We used “Sedona ATV Rentals and Off Road Adventures” for a rental company their website is www.atvRentalsSedona.com and they were incredible to work with.

Conclusion:

So I hope this whet your appetite for traveling to Arizona. This is just a small collection of what’s there to see but it’s a pretty decent list to give you a great idea of the must-see locations. Certainly you can add to the research and find a few more great locations.

If you have any questions about this trip or a trip you are planning feel free to contact us with any of your questions.   This and many more trips are planned and you might be able to be part of one of them.

Other Resources:

Check out the Six Part Video Series “Photography ~ How to Take Great Pictures“.  That will help you dramatically improve your photography.

Remember your first 1 million pictures are your worst so get out and shoot so that you can learn by experimenting. There is no way to make mistakes or do it wrong, this is all learning by experimenting so have fun and shot.

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Until next time, get out and capture the adventure!!

 

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Written by Wayne Moran - Visit Website
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