A complete guide for photography at the Grand Canyon


Grand Canyon National Park is one of North America’s most visited destinations – attracting more than five million people every year. The park offers spectacular sights and scenery to hoards of tourists hoping for a glimpse into the past. It should come as no surprise that one of the biggest attractions in the park has always been its splendid sunsets. Sunset at the canyon, however, is anything but ordinary. The sunlight casts an orange-red glow across everything it hits, including canyon walls, winding trails and lush surroundings. Photographers flock to these locations hoping to capture this perfect moment where everyone wants to be there – you can feel it! But capturing this exact moment isn’t so easy because not only do you have to find your spot, you have to compete for it, too. As a result, if you don’t know what you’re doing, you’ll spend hours there without even getting half the shots you wanted.

With that being said, I hope this article will help those of you who have been struggling at sunset time. Whether you want to capture the moment from your own personal perspective or be a part of it by photographing others as they take in the sight, there are helpful guidelines below that might help make your experience more enjoyable and fruitful. At the end of the day, this is one of those activities where having a bit of knowledge can go a long way! So let’s begin…

Grand Canyon Sunset Tips & Tricks:

A view of a city street filled with traffic at night

1 Find Your Spot

A camera on a table

This is the most important step to photographing the Grand Canyon. To be honest, there are hundreds of locations you can choose from – but there are some that photograph better than others depending on your goals. If you’re looking for personal photos, then this will depend mostly on what’s in front of you. For example, if you want to take a picture straight down the canyon or with someone in front of it, then good spots to capture these types of shots include Yavapai Point and Mather Point (described later). But if you’re photographing other people as they experience the Sunset, then try taking your position one or two ridges above them so that you have an overlooking view. Don’t worry about finding just the perfect spot and getting frustrated – simply move around until you find what you’re looking for and then take your time to set up and compose your shot. This is especially important if you’re using a tripod!

2 Use a Tripod

This is where not having a tripod will really hurt you. Although you can get away with not using one at other times of the day, sunset is one of those moments when a tripod is essential to getting the shots you want. Not only will it help keep your camera steady while photographing, but it’ll also allow you to use longer exposures which can result in some beautiful photos.

3 Use a Remote or Delay Timer

Another way to avoid camera shake is by using a remote or delay timer on your camera. This will allow you to trip the shutter without having to actually touch the camera, thus minimizing any possible movement.

4 Use a Filter

Using a filter is another way to help improve your photos. A Circular Polarizing Filter (CPL), for example, can help cut down on reflections and make the colors in your photos more intense.

5 Shoot in RAW

This is something you should be doing anyways, but it’s especially important when shooting landscapes. Shooting in RAW will give you much more flexibility when editing your photos later on.

6 Use Manual Mode

This is another setting that you should always use when photographing landscapes. By using manual mode, you’ll have control over the settings of your camera and be able to better adjust them to get the results you want.

7 Use a Low ISO

When shooting at sunset, it’s best to use a low ISO setting to avoid any noise in your photos. For most digital SLRs, a good starting point is around 100-200.

8 Use a Small Aperture

To get that nice creamy background in your photos, you’ll want to use a small aperture (represented by a high f-stop number). This will help blur out the background and make your subject more prominent.

9 Wait for the Perfect Moment

This is probably the hardest part – waiting for the perfect moment! But trust me, it’s worth it. As I said before, there are hundreds of shots you can take at the Grand Canyon during sunset, so it’s important to be patient and wait for that one special moment.

10 Shoot, Shoot, Shoot!

This is probably the best piece of advice I can give – shoot as much as possible! The more photos you take, the greater your chance of getting that one perfect shot. And don’t forget to enjoy the experience too!

Thanks for reading! I hope these tips will help you capture some amazing photos of the Grand Canyon Sunset.

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