Photographing the Mythical Landscapes Around the Grand Canyon in the USA - November 2016

The Grand Canyon: A Dream to all Landscape Photographers

For this photo trip entitled ‘The Grand Circle’ and consecrated to the mythical landscapes surrounding the Grand Canyon, we gathered five photographers impassioned by nature oriented photography.

Each participant came to fulfill a dream: See the Grand Canyon, revisit Bryce Canyon and even retrace John Wayne’s footsteps

The tranees of this photograpphy trip 'Grand Circle' around the Grand Canyon : Daniel, Josiane, Patrick, Dominique and Pascale.

The tranees of this photograpphy trip 'Grand Circle' around the Grand Canyon : Daniel, Josiane, Patrick, Dominique and Pascale.

Thirteen Days to Trek the Grand Circle Around the Grand Canyon

We chose the city of Las Vegas as both a starting point and ending point. On one hand it hosted a quality international airport, while on the other this city is unique in its appearance from anywhere else in the world. Las Vegas is a perfect entryway for this photo trip as the famous strip with all its great hotels guarantee complete culture shock for those participants arriving from Europe. In addition, the neighboring areas around Las Vegas include diamonds in the rough for amateur landscape photographers. For us, this place in the state of Nevada is perfect.

After having spent the first day sifting through the different hotels to photograph the varying thematic decors, we went to photograph the rock formations in two very distinct places at less than an hour’s drive from town. These two first days allowed the interns to adapt themselves to the time change and to properly carry out the necessary adjustments to their equipment before the climb to the Colorado plateau where we would reside for the next 10 days.

The goal of this photography workshop is to trace a large loop around the Grand Canyon in order to photograph mythical landscapes and other less known regions yet just as interesting.

A Series of Varied and Different Mineral Landscapes

The Grand Circle, with its center being the Grand Canyon, is a series of mineral landscapes that find themselves upon the Colorado Plateau. Each of them hold their own geological forms and colors. Monument Valley is a desert region where red tainted rocky outcrops rise from the ground. Bryce Canyon is a canyon where the hoodoos (Fairy Fireplaces) reach up to 1900 meters in altitude. The Antelop canyons propose colors and rounded forms unlike anywhere else in the world. As for the Grand Canyon, it is an immense crevice where the Colorado River serpentines. Time and erosion created these red and copper colored forms, sharp and steep.

All of these landscapes have one single characteristic in common: They are of mineral origin. As to what concerns the colors, formations and ambiance, these are all totally different.

Each site is a veritable paradise for a landscape photographer. Each individual can find themselves a little happiness whether it be for the lover of the graphics, impassioned of the colors, admirer of endless horizons or even the enthusiast for the wonders of nature.

The Grand Circle is above all else a journey for photographers passionate about the wonders of nature. Once again, just as in 2014, the five participants were fascinated by the spectacles that were laid before their eyes. None of them will ever forget what they saw and photographer.

Photographic Advice Adapted to Each Photographer

For years now, as professional photographers, we have gone to photograph the wonders of nature in this region of the United States. We know exactly which places we have brought the participants. Once we arrive in a location, we give the best possible advice to position the tripods and immediately realize the best pictures. It’s our added value. Next, each photographer was able to reposition it however they desired in order to personalize their snapshots.

For this outing we chose areas such as the Grand Canyons with its immense landscapes but also smaller, yet just as extraordinary, locations like the Antelop canyons.

We had reserved the spaces one year in advance as few select persons can place their tripods in this unique area. We knew that we were going to surprise the interns but we were far from imagining this much.

Photographing the beauties of the Grand Circle’s nature is not as easy as it seems. The distances are so vast and immense that it takes time to know where to position one’s self in accordance with the light. Our added value it to aide the participants choose the frameworks and functions of their scenes. In addition, a scene can be interesting in the morning but completely unadapted to the afternoon’s lighting. Our knowledge of the terrain permitted everyone to ask pointless questions as a trip of thirteen days is very short in the face such immensities.

A Journey to the Level of Expectations of Each Participant

Finally, this trip was to the heights and expectations of each participant. All had come to realize a great dread. We gave them the possibility to accomplish them in the best possible conditions.

Written Testimonies of the Participants

Pascale Pascale.

It was a marvelous journey. It was above and beyond my expectations. Even though I was expecting something exceptional, it was even better than what I’d expected. I discovered a marvelous country, grandiose and with plenty of colors.

I did not know the American people. I discovered nice and very sympathetic people.

In coming on this trip, I wanted to discover the American west, the landscapes but I also wanted photographic advice on Landscape photography. I wanted to improve myself. All of my expectations were met, on the level of technical apprenticeship as much as on the voyage itself.

Now in landscape photography, I know quite well how to determine the different compositions. I will place into value the center of interest. Now I avoid spreading. I also know how to realize HDR images. I know how to bring into value the landscapes in my photos.

When I arrived in the United States, I had preconceived notions on the country were nothing but money and wealth mattered. I discovered something else entirely. I also loved the nature in these regions of the west. There is a lot of serenity. I discovered the purity of the air in the different states that we crossed.

The organization of the trip were really top notch whether it concerned the transportation or the hotels. Each detail was carefully planned. I greatly appreciated letting myself carried with the flow of the journey. The stops were well organized with two night at each hotel.

The contrast between Las Vegas and the rest of the voyage were satisfactory for me. We were in a city in movement, a little noisy. Then, we knew the calm and serenity. It was truly magnificent.

In contrast to France everything is grandiose in the countryside of the American west. Everything is enlarged.

What I will hold onto the most is certainly Brice Canyon. I liked everything in this trip but I have a stronger feeling for this place. I felt something particular. There is a great amount of energy that emanates from Bryce Canyon.

To come back to the Americans, I see them now as totally different. They are very accessible. They are very nice and very respectful. They are always looking to inform us and help us and even trying to enter into contact with us. I think we have a lot to learn about their way of life.

It is difficult for me to conserve a particular image in memory of this extraordinary journey. I loved everything but I will always keep longer in my mind Bryce Canyon.

Email of November the 20th, 2016

Hello Amar,

We returned home to Reims yesterday morning and the flight was impeccable. We have colored images filed with love and the eyes to face the coming winter.

A big thank you for this superb voyage, everything was perfect: The hotels, the trails, the choice of locations and of course your patience and your availability which allowed me to make great photos and to progress even further. You always swear a badge of honor that each person ends up satisfied in what they were seeking in their trip.

I believe in retrospect that I preferred (while having like everything) Antelop for its colors and Bryce Canyon for the forms of its landscape. But with a short preference on everything that we saw.

Josiane Josiane.

I lived an exceptional voyage. The landscapes that I saw were magnificent. The organization was very good with well chosen hotels. We didn’t need to make too many miles between stops. The ambience within the group was excellent.

My favorite site was Bryce Canyon. I had already done this trip over 20 years ago. I wanted to do it again. When I learned that you were organizing it, I immediately decided that it was with you that I wanted to redo it with. For example, I dreamed of descending into Bryce Canyon and I did it.

The first time I did this trip, I didn’t have any photographic notions. I did things just like everyone else: I took snapshots of everything. Since I had memories of having scene beautiful countrysides yet without having them in pictures, I decided to come back. I wanted to revisit with proper lighting conditions and with someone like you who knew the perfect locations to photograph. I also wanted to learn about landscape photography. I hit the jackpot.

The bonus to this trip was for me to discover this country from an American’s viewpoint. You are now an American citizen and you know these places well. I wanted you to make me discover them as if it were for yourself. Now I see the United States in a completely differently. What I saw is totally different from the manner in which they’re spoken of in France. Americans are really cool people. They always want to create new contacts. It’s a really friendly country. I found it to be superb.

I really enjoyed all the sites we went to. Even if my preference goes to Bryce Canyon, I liked the Grand Canyon and Antelop Canyon.

During this photographic workshop, I learn a great deal. Now I understand how to frame my photos, how to adjust my camera. I now know how to use the adjustments that I didn’t know. I can better handle the depth of field. I understood the role of lighting well. I truly learned a lot most notably the usage of filters such as the polarizer and the various types of greyscale.

I also wanted to say that the proposed trail was excellent and well calculated. Each day was well used. We never had to do to much road.

If I had to conserve an image of this trip it would be one of Bryce Canyon. I don’t yet know which one but I’m certain it would be one of them.

Dominique Dominique.

My general impressions on this trip are a bit mitigated. I arrived in the United States with numerous personal problems whom did not allow me to fully experience this adventure.

On the topic of organization, the trip was very good whether it be on the choice of the car to hotels to the sites to photograph. The stops were sufficiently longs that we could rest well. The distances weren’t very long and I didn’t experience any fatigue. In the car, I had the last row of seats all to myself. It was very comfortable. During the changing locations, I was able to rest and to take advantage of relishing the excellent American candies.

Concerning the ambience, everything went down smoothly. The discussions were passionate and interesting. I stayed a little bit back in restraint to the rest of the group but it was voluntary. I was pumped to discover Las Vegas which I knew a little of thanks to all the television shows I devoured over days on end. I know the sights and the hotels thanks to the little screens. To actually see them was a real shock. On the physical plan, it wasn’t difficult. Sometimes I preferred to leave before the end of the photography sessions like at the Grand Canyon in order to rest in my room that was in other news very comfortable.

I was also a little disappointed that we didn’t approach nighttime photography as much as I hoped for. However the days were well stocked and very long. I can understand that for a single person it would have been difficult to spend a part of the night in the field.

The tailored person to person pieces of advice were very good. I regret that our host did not have more time for me while in the field but we were a group of five photographers. Each of us had to have the same amount of time for explanations.

In the end, I would say that it was a good trip but that I arrived tired and was not totally able to disconnect.

Daniel Daniel.

To begin with I have but one regret, it’s that this trip is ending. I would have like to stay a week or two in extra because there are a lot of things to see.

I came on this voyage to the United States with preconceived ideas based on all that the medias tell us. And it’s quite the revelation. I was fascinated by the Americans’ friendliness. Everyone is agreeable, sympathetic.

All the sites that we visited are organized in an extraordinary manner with a lot of comfort for the visitors like the bathrooms which are everywhere. The landscapes were eye popping.

I am not a landscape photographer but I’m going to start down that bath because I discovered jaw dropping views whether it be the Grand Canyon or Brice Canyon. My first contact, a night with Bryce Canyon left me hungry for more as there was not enough light present. But the following morning, it was surprising. It was magnificent. I’m not even talking about the Grand Canyon. I was fascinated by Antelope Canyon and its incredible colors. My photos are incredible even if the viewpoint shots were difficult.

Plus I followed in John Wayne’s footsteps. That was fantastic. It was maybe the must-do of the trip. That actor and his moves are my entire childhood and my entire adolescence. Finding myself in the middle of the scenes of films that I loved was very impressing for me and rich with emotions.

The organization of this trip and it annoys me in having to say it again was more than perfect. But with you it cannot be any other way. It’s been a few years since we’ve known each other. It’s my first grand journey with you other than the trips to the Red Sea, the foam of the surf and floating blinds but it was always close to France. I have to recognize that your organization, your handling, your availability are perfect. It’s the must.

I will only recommend your workshop as it’s remarkable.

Now I want to discover a little more about the United States. I want to come back. I want to have more interaction with the people. I don’t speak english but I still want to communicate with them.

The United States is now a country that I like. It’s a literal lighting strike. I adore Africa because it’s my terrain of choice but I really want to go farther. The human element of contact with the Americans is extraordinary. This has nothing to do with the image given by the medias.

If I had to conserve an image of this trip it would be the moon rising up from the mesas of Monument Valley. It was magnificent. It may not be the most beautiful shot I took but it’s the magic of the moment.

Email of November the 19th, 2016

Goodnight or good morning Amar,

Just a little hello to thank you and say how extraordinary this trip was for me. It’s true that there is a certain symbiotic artistry that exist between us. We way not have the same photographic endgame, but we converge at essential points that, at least, for me, further than the letter from Léa, continues to improve myself photographical speaking. That being said, I’m knee deep in ‘Shit’. I’m actually currently developing Antelope: 98 shots (plus twenty subjects). Each visual merits its own development. What am I going to do with the other 1900 shots from the trip?????. It’s really not cool on your part. That said, I’m starting over the whole experience tomorrow. Josiane is in heaven. Talking about our folly, you, Zaza and me. I contacted Michel. He is ok to accompany us in 2018 - 2019 in this insanity.

P.S. You really gave me the taste for the true landscape, and its difficulty, an additional pain in the ass were it isn’t enough to be on location, but to be present the right day at the right hour with the right light, with the right filters. Which means immersion, with, just like in animal photography, a perfect understanding of the terrain. It is evident that I succeed only rarely in the ensemble of these conditions, but the challenge is interesting to face. March, il be doing some Lion, June in Scotland, end of October beginning of November still more lion. A weighted schedule for 2017. Philippe Save is willing to have himself join us during our next stop in the US. He’s a pleasant traveling companion, without issue, always available. He has only one flaw: He’s a Canon. Monday I take a flight for Guadeloupe until the 27th. There, no landscape. In a stretch a few diving pelicans. To finish, I bid you both a great New Year party and an exceptional 2017.

See ya, Daniel

Patrick Patrick.

My impressions on the subject of this trip to the United States that lead us around the Grand Canyon between the states of Nevada, Arizona and Utah are heartfelt.

I was rather uninterested concerning Las Vegas as our first stop. I thought it would be neon lights, music and noise. But it was something else entirely. We visited it both during the day and throughout the night. It was a fabulous discovery. There is nothing which isn’t allowed. I saw extraordinary things. I really do not regret this stop.

On the rest of the trip what do I have to say? Everything was fine.

In participating in this journey, I wanted to discover the United States. I also wanted to see how Americans lived. The real thing is completely different from the pictures that we are constantly shown. In the three states that we visited, the people were charming. The images that were are shown by the medias are totally false.

What I also hold onto from this trip are the open spaces. I knew them through movies. But in reality, I realized that Monument Valley is fabulous. Yet all the sites that we visited are incredible. There are no other words to describe everything I saw and lived.

The workshop’s organization was excellent. The hotels were comfortable. The choice of stops for two nights is an excellent compromise to avoid having to pack your bags each day. The car was comfortable.

Now that I’ve vacationed in three states, I see Americans as these extraordinary people. They are welcoming, smiling, respectful of nature, of the environment but especially of the other people which surround them. I will give you an example. This afternoon, in Las Vegas, I was preparing to cross the road when the cars stopped to let me pass. In France, the drivers would have honked their horns and wouldn’t have stopped.

Remembering a good moment of this trip is really difficult. There are many. Todays, for example, I shot 600 photos. I have to do another trip to better understand what it is I lived.

To finish, I would say that the Grand Canyon is Fabulous. Lake Powell was extraordinary. This trip was a mix between mineral and vegetative landscapes. You can’t miss it.

A gallery of the participants' photos