Can you imagine the entire Grand Canyon was carved by a single river? It's tough to believe at first, but take a look at the shape of the cuts all around the canyon--see how they form the shape of a meandering river? And if you look closely towards the bottom right, you can actually see a little bit of the river.
It's extremely challenging to represent the true grandness of the Grand Canyon in a picture. Photography in general is challenging because a photo is a 2 dimensional representation of our beautiful 3 dimensional world. This challenge takes on new meaning at the Grand Canyon--simply because the Grand Canyon is so 3D! The thing that takes everybody's breath away when they see the Grand Canyon for the first time is its panoramic depth. Let me admit that this photo does not do justice to the actual scene. However, there are a few things that I did here to bring in some of that beautiful depth. Let's see what they are...
First, I got here before sunrise. The light at sunrise is much softer than say at 10 AM, so that's when the colors reflect really well on Mother Earth. Here you can see the different shades of brown, orange, gold, red, and gray. Later in the day, the scene would have looked flat with not much contrast. Ok, what else did I do?
I used a tripod. Because at sunrise the light is not so strong, your camera's shutter will be open for a longer time, so more light can come in. The camera captures everything while the shutter is open--even movement caused by unsteady hands--and as a result, your picture will not be sharp. This is why you have to use a tripod when shooting at sunrise. If you notice the structure of the canyon, it's rather sharp. It's because I used a tripod.
I used the self-timer on my camera. The self-timer is useful not just for group shots! In fact every time you use a tripod, you should use the self-timer. Why? Because if you use the shutter-release button on your camera to take the shot (as you normally would), you would end up causing some camera shake. So, to keep your picture absolutely sharp, you should use the self-timer. I set mine to 2 seconds (rather than the default 10 seconds), so its not as annoying.
So, there you go. Just by arriving here at sunrise and letting nature do most of the work with her amazing light, using a tripod, and using the self-timer, you can create a picture that closely resembles how the beautiful scene looked to you in real life.