Black Canyon of the Gunnison

Black Canyon AU11-17

Spent this evening at Black Canyon of the Gunnison, which is really not all that black, but rather, is a kind of brownish, redish gray, and almost a glowing brown, depending on the light. This canyon is, in places, deeper than it is wide, so photographing it presents a huge challenge. In normal daylight, the dynamic range is so great between the sky and those places in the canyon lit by the sun on the one hand, and the deep, dark shadows of the canyon on the other hand, that it’s impossible to expose both in the camera. To be photographed successfully, one needs the sun to be veiled or softened some high, wispy clouds, and moreover, some thicker clouds need to rise opposite the sun to serve as a reflector. When those conditions arise, the canyon can be photographed with some success. Fortunately, I had ideal light for my late afternoon-evening sojourn at Black Canyon of the Gunnison, with results like this:

Where the canyon ends poses a special problem, as the light can sometimes be too soft in the evening sun. Try as hard I could, I could not get much of anything. I had to apply way too much contrast to this photo in post to make it half-way presentable. But it sorely lacks in detail and could never be made into a large print:

With clouds on one horizon and a setting sun on the other, the reflections create utterly magical light, as follows:

And even later you get this: