Capturing

Storm above the Grand Canyon

Storm above the Grand Canyon

A quiet late evening moment near the end of August at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. A storm set in from the west. It is 1994. As a child I dreamed of this place. Whenever my grandparents returned from California in the Seventies and early Eighties, visiting my relatives there, they told about the Grand Canyon. They once visited it, but also saw the Canyon on their return flights from LAX. The scale, the beauty, a sight really special. Or at least that was what I imagined.

I return to 1994 and anxiously we arrive at the North Rim Lodge filled with expactations, facts, and the stories once told. I am overwhelmed. I can’t believe it. I start making photographs at the end of the day. The light is fantastic. The clouds at depth. The views are just breathtaking. I really can’t believe I am here.

On the third day I thought I had seen it all. It is late at night, briefly before midnight and it is full moon. It is still pleasantly warm while we sit on wooden chairs on the patio facing south. The moon completely lights up the canyon accentuating every outline. In fact, the light is so bright that only a view stars can be seen despite the clear sky. Grasshoppers fill in the musical background, adding a new layer to this spectacular sight. The view is unbelievably stunning. Almost too good to be true.

The camera bag rests besides me. With a long exposure, probably 30 seconds with an f/16 aperture, there is so much light I can expose the slide to make it look like a weird day time seen. Can I capture what I feel right now? I get the sense that the sound of the grasshoppers is necessary to actually understand what I see and feel. After some doubting I make up mind.

Even though it was certainly a place worth capturing, the moment was just too special to be captured. The senses being engraved in my memory would ultimately be stronger than every possible attempt to photograph it. I realized it that late night and still believe that now.

Photograph by Wouter Brandsma

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