The Night Sky and Toroweap

The night sky above Toroweap ~ Grand Canyon National Park

I have been working on capturing scenes in very low-light to capture a star-filled sky. On this particular morning, when I made the hike from the campground at Toroweap out to the edge of the canyon, i was a bit disappointed to see the clouds in the sky. It was still very dark, so dark in-fact that I couldn’t even see down into the canyon as I approached the edge, but within minutes a faint glow began to light the canyon walls.

As my vision adjusted to the darkness I could see that the clouds were beginning to lift and as they did, they were being lit by the moon which was had just dipped below the horizon. Using a long-shutter speed and fast aperture (fast for landscape photography) I was able to make an exposure with just enough light to see into the canyon while preserving the sky above, including stars!

For those of you interested in the technical details…I created this image using a Canon EOS 5D Mark II paired with a Nikon 14-24mm lens. The camera settings included ISO 400, a shutter speed of 5 seconds and an aperture value of approximately f/4. I wanted to avoid a longer shutter speed in order to preserve the natural shape of the stars. A longer shutter speed would potentially would have resulted in a longer star-trail.

I’ll be giving away an 11″x14″ fine art print of this image to one lucky person. Leave a comment below, or on my Facebook fan page, and you’ll automatically be entered into the drawing which will be held on Monday, December 6th. Good luck!



  1. Brian VanDenzen November 30, 2010 at 6:50 am

    Fantastic! No other words are necessary, as it is near perfection. I would love to see this thing printed huge somewhere…

  2. Cat Lazaroff November 30, 2010 at 9:59 am

    This is one of very few images I’ve seen that truly conveys the scope, majesty and mystery of the Grand Canyon. The way the velvet, changing sky appears spangled with stars; the warm light that appears to radiate from within the rock itself… The river below, a sheet of quicksilver reflecting the dying day above… It’s poetry. Thanks for sharing.

    If I don’t win your generous gift, I hope I can buy a copy!

  3. Staci Stevens November 30, 2010 at 10:09 am

    What a stunning photo. It has a dream-like quality to it. The light on the canyon walls and the stars above seem surreal – truely amazing that you were able to capture them together. Beautiful work! If I don’t win the giveaway I’d be willing to buy a print!

  4. Debbie Allen November 30, 2010 at 11:40 am

    Wow. That is an awesome picture. We have camped at Toroweap, but did not have a morning sky like that. Nice clouds tend to be a rarity in Arizona. I appreciate that you just took the one picture, rather than make an HDR composite.

  5. Tara Thornton November 30, 2010 at 3:36 pm

    Breathtaking!! Absolutely gorgeous- brings back wonderful memories of time spent camping at the Grand Canyon… Thanks for sharing.

  6. Ken Wyatt November 30, 2010 at 8:51 pm

    Incredible image Adam! Why the Nikkor lens?

  7. Adam Schallau November 30, 2010 at 9:34 pm

    I’d like to thank everyone for your wonderful compliments. It’s nice to know that this image has touched so many people in a positive way. I wish I could give away a print to everyone.

  8. Adam Schallau November 30, 2010 at 9:37 pm

    Hi Ken,
    After owning several ultra-wide lenses including both the Canon EF17-40mm f/4L and the EF16-35mm f/2.8L Mark II, I went with the Nikon simply because it is sharper than anything else currently being produced. I would not have dared attempt this image with either Canon, especially since it was shot using an aperture value of f/4.

    I hope all is well.


  9. Cynthia Hedgecock November 30, 2010 at 11:18 pm

    Adam, this is really lovely, and I appreciate you including the technical details. Interesting comments about the Nikon vs. Canon lenses as I have always considered the Canon lenses sharper. But I admit I’ve never tried the combination! I shoot with a 7D and fantasize about 5D MarkII. One of these days…

  10. Jackson Frishman December 1, 2010 at 12:08 pm

    Just stunning, Adam! I’ve never seen a Grand Canyon shot like this before. I hope one of these days I can try something like this from the river.

  11. George Brown December 1, 2010 at 4:27 pm

    It’s magic. And I’m sure glad, Adam, that I don’t own a Nikon lens like that !!!! Just think if I did !

  12. David Smithies December 4, 2010 at 11:42 am

    love your shots. Wish I had the time and know-how to do the same

  13. Kerrie Kleinpeter December 4, 2010 at 1:59 pm

    A stunning view of Heaven and Earth, Adam….I love getting a glimpse of what the world looks like through your eyes!

  14. Danica Kenjura December 4, 2010 at 5:44 pm

    That is beautiful. Great time of day and everything is there. The Canyon and the sky. I have never been there but you make me want to jump in the car and head that way.

  15. Adam Schallau December 6, 2010 at 10:54 am

    Thanks for stopping by to leave a comment. Both Canon and Nikon make great camera systems and they both have strength and weaknesses. As for the 5D Mark II…it sounds like the Mark III might be just a few months down the road.

    Thank you so much! Good luck with you work. I hope I get a chance to see what you create.

    Ha! Maybe it is a good thing I kept the lens.

    Finding the time can be difficult, but it can be found. I think patience is the key ingredient in photography.

    Thank you!

    That’s probably the best compliment a photographer can receive…knowing that a photograph inspires someone to visit the location in the shot. Thank you.

Comments are closed.