Experiencing the Grand Canyon in a New Light

Words and photos by Coalatree Ambassador Peter Coskun. See more of Peter's work on his website, and check him out on Instagram.

When I moved to the Grand Canyon state when I was thirteen, I wasn’t sure how long it would be until I saw the state's namesake. It wasn’t long after that our family first visited the Grand Canyon. Seeing this place in person is probably akin to people referring to the first time they heard the Beatles, but that’s probably only true if you have a deep appreciation for nature.

It was many years later, after I had graduated high school, that I picked up a camera and made my first photographic trip to the canyon. I had no clue what I was doing. Every image I took was basically a snapshot--no regard to light or composition, just pointing the camera at this rather impressive canyon. It occurred to me that photos really don’t do this place justice, and at the same time most people never venture further than the paved viewpoints that are too easily accessible. 
After a few years and many visits I realized I had been mostly shooting wide-angle scenes from the rim (which I still do from time to time), ignoring the canyon's interior layers and details. Since this “revelation”, I have found using my zoom lenses to be more beneficial to me as I can pinpoint specific moments of light and shadow dancing inside the canyon.
Summer visits revealed the monsoon storms over the canyon looking for any chance to catch lightning striking the rim or within the canyon. My winter visits seemed to be more invested in watching low clouds linger and rise in and out of the canyon creating windows of deep shadow, and vibrant bright highlights. Being able to study and watch these instances has made me fall in love with the Grand Canyon. I quickly lost count of how many times I have visited this magnificent place.
I am always looking forward to returning not only to photograph, but to enjoy the peace and solitude it can provide, if you know where to look. Winter, summer, spring and fall, any time of year is a good time of year to visit the Grand Canyon. Just be sure to take a moment or two to truly appreciate the Grand Canyon without a camera--there’s plenty of views to go around in between shots.

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