Well as you read we are at the Grand Canyon National Park. I was excited to shoot images of the park and really got into it. But I knew I was missing something. I need darkness in my life, I needed dramatic color, I needed 30sec exposures. So after the day with the family we headed home, and the research began. Where was the best view of the winter setting sun? That was a simple google search away, Hopi Point. This time of year I would be able to drive my trusty Jeep, right to the spot. Normally you have to take a tour bus to access this section of the park, but after Dec. 1st they stop the line and allow private vehicles! So I took my dedicated and astute photography assistant Zoey and we loaded up the car. I packed every type of gear I could possibly think of needing, Zoey planned for the important stuff, snacks and blankets. We headed out early to get a prime spot on the rim, away from the pesky railings. I do have to confess I have zero fear of heights, heck I think they are awesome. However, add your beloved 10 year old daughter to the mix and they be come slightly terrifying. I made her sit on a small perch above where I was shooting. My tripod settled in just inches from the edge of the canyon, this would be my place, my haunt, my easel from where I would create my master piece. This was the plan, then came the others… People started crawling all over the landscape, what was once isolated was now looking like Wal-Mart on black Friday. One guy even sat right in front of my tripod holding his selfy stick trying to get an image of himself. I waited for him to move, but he settled in. I would move my lens and he would move with me, it was like photo chicken, but I had the advantage, I had a cliff. He could only move so far, I ended up liking the composition better anyway. So we waited, then I captured what will be one of my favorite images of the trip.
It was a candid image of Zoey, really melting into her photography. She was engaged, committed, and devoted. It was 31 degrees and getting colder. She did not wavier, nor complain. This was one of the most heart warming moments of this trip so far. My daughter taking a true and deep interest in something that has brought my family and I so much, photography. The way she was peppering off questions about images and settings reminded me of myself, when I would sneak down to Ms. Grey’s office in high school and pummel her with photography questions. She lit a spark in me that has forever changed my life. It is funny how God places people in your life that alter your path, change your perspective, and help define who you are. Ms. Grey did that with photography, encouraging me to explore my abilities and strive to learn and grow in my art. I hope that I can do this for Zoey, keep here engaged, and nurture her artistic spirt.
Back to the edge of the world, the sun was setting and it was go time. I took my shot and knew instantly that I was on target. I looked at the image as it appeared on the viewfinder and knew that I had done it, I had made my image.
As I looked out into the Canyon with Zoey by my side I became a little emotional. Zoey asked me what was wrong, and I said “nothing, dad is just having a moment.” It was a moment when all the sacrifice, all of the doubt, and of the stress had become worth it. We were doing it, living in the moment. My daughter was seeing and doing things that she could only have dreamed of last year. She now truly was engaged, and it was all worth it. It brought a tear to my eye and a calmness to my heart, Ashley and I did the right thing, we made the right choice, the payoff is coming.
It was cold, and getting colder, but we came here for stars. So we headed to the car to warm up and share about our experiences. As night descended on the canyon we exited our warm safe haven back in the what was now a brutal wind and chilling night. We setup in the same spot as before, which was now 100x more sketchy in the dark, but worth it. It was really neat seeing the small flecks of lights on the canyon floor, I assume it was camp fires of those camping near the river. But I was here for light in the sky and the canyon did not disappoint. The Milky Way was visible with the naked eye despite the moon shining down on us. We endured the cold to capture what we came for, the night at the canyon.
Till the next time,
Author: Zachary Rackovan
I am a 33 year old father of two amazing daughters! I am lucky to be married to the most amazing wife in the world. I am a retired Detective and currently pursuing my dream of living on the road with my family, while working as a professional photographer. My work can be found at www.abi-photo.com/art