June 12, 2015
I heard a condor yesterday, or rather felt it. I was at the Cape Royal overlook, about a 20 mile drive from the cabin scouting out locations that would make good night photos. It was just me and two other young men on an outcrop of rock, I heard a whooshing sound like wind through trees. Suddenly the sound was directly overhead then ahead of me, like the Doppler effect of a car or plane. I looked up and saw the huge wingspan of a black bird receding in the distance – a California condor. It had glided on an updraft and flown over the viewpoint astonishing me and all the visitors. I, of course, was too startled to take any photos. But the North Rim information guide says the condors are making a comeback after almost disappearing in the 1980s.
The moon is a great source for illuminating big landscapes at night. In photographs the light can enable you to see details of the earth while still seeing the stars. The main problem is you have to go by the moon’s schedule. Last night/this morning it meant waking up at 1:30 am and heading out to Bright Angel Point for the 2:25 am moonrise. It rose looking very orange from haze on the horizon, casting a warm glow over the formations. The air was very still so I experimented with shooting a close-up of a plant (picture above). The exposures are 15 seconds long, so the slightest breeze can blur the subject, it was remarkably calm so the plants came out very sharp.