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Mass travel mass photography
Today I stood at the South Rim of Grand Canyon again, peeking into a large hole in the ground together with hordes of tourists and photographers alike. Nevermind the ice on the roads or the featurless sky making for one of the least attractive sunsets I have ever seen. As the sun went down, everyone and their dog went crazy. A flurry of activity developed. People whipped out lenses so big they needed a trailer to be towed behind those guys cars and cameras the photographers could duck behind and survive a nuclear blast.
Amidst them, I stood and wondered if the storm system that rolls in tomorrow will bring good light. I wondered if it is still possible to create a unique photograph from the canyon rim, esp. with boring weather such as this.
On this road trip I mostly avoided the large parks and focused on the smaller nature trails in the four corner states, hoping to avoid the tourist crowds while staking out new angles. In some areas I was completely alone and in some others a few die hard hikers and photographers would accompany me.
Sometimes, I couldn't get where I wanted because of weather conditions. I returned from a trail exhausted after hiking through the snow for a good hour or so. After sinking in almost waist deep I admitted defeat and returned to my car beaten. Nevertheless I think I had a lot of fun and I didn't miss out on anything.
Finding a unique angle from the Grand Canyon overlook is almost impossible with hundreds of photographers pointing their cameras in every possible direction. This makes the Canyon Rim one of my least favorite places for photography.
Arches National Park is different. Combining foreground, middleground and background elements, finding unique points of view with unique focal lengths is much easier here.
With the National Parks overshadowing the often more serene and equally beautiful state parks, tribal parks and backcountry, I am glad they act as giant tourist magnets, sucking in the crowds.