Capturing

2013, Photography
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

17 thoughts on “Capturing

  1. I wish I could hear the grasshoppers. But even though I can’t, and despite the construction noise in front of my house in this neighborhood of Medellín, I still get a feeling, thanks to your beautiful photo and the accompanying words. Stunning, absolutely stunning.

  2. “I want to sleep beneath peaceful skies in my lover’s bed / With a wide open country in my eyes and these romantic dreams in my head” (Bruce Springsteen)

    These memeories are so precious & priceless. Just like this frame of yours, Wouter, that opens the doors to a hundred more stories & memories. And these special places that are so hard to capture make this photograph so special. At least to me & you.

    All the best & safe travels, Fritsch.

    1. Details don’t enhance the feeling in my opinion, but only the drive to obtain more useless data. It is about making decisions, coping with or even creating limitations, and using isolation means to emphasize what I find meaningful.

  3. Hi cousin, I remember that trip as well (even though I didn’t go to the Grand Canyon with you). I remember you and your dad talking with just about EVERYONE, no matter what the language. Walk through Yellowstone and hearing all those languages, which was quite novel for an American (granted, I was use to hearing Spanish on a daily basis, but that was it).

    I also remember you being amazed at the distances of things in the West. Something that I was just accustomed to. Looking out across a desert landscape, peering at mountains 50 miles or more away, or driving to the nearest city and taking two hours to get there.

    That became more apparent when I visited your homeland, which seems so compact. You never leave people or civilization for more than a moment. Fields and canals surround town a cities with not a square unused between them. My landscapes of desert sagebrush and lava rock did not compare.

    Add to that an almost ancient feel to everything. Old civilization. Our old populations left few remains, living as nomads on the land. There you have towns older than our ruins. Our landscapes are old, almost impossibly old. Getting away from everything is trivially easy here. But we miss the coziness of your towns, because we haven’t lived in them much.

    I hope to see you again soon.

    1. I still remember everything. You speeding with your Mitsubishi after church :), the bulls night on the dairy, Shoshone falls, the driving through Montana, your aunt and uncle in Whitefish (and the power breakdown after a lightning strike), Ernest Hemingway’s grave in Ketchum, Tijuana, your grandmother in Chino, the helicopter carrier at the Naval Base San Diego, and all the nieces and cousins. Yes, the distances and beauty of the surroundings were overwhelming. I still miss it, but keep the many great memories alive.

      My kids ask me about it sometimes, like I questioned my grandparents when I was young. With the current means it is a joy to share some of it through street view. I still hope to see you again and come visiting you in Boise. Thanks Chris.

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