After two years in a row of experiencing very dry monsoons, also known as a "nonsoon" in which there was little to no storm activity, we finally had a decent season this year in northern Arizona.
I made several trips to both the South Rim and North Rim of the Grand Canyon to lead photography workshops and personal trips to create new photographs for my portfolio.
My last trip to the canyon was especially fruitful as I arrived to the North Rim the day before a very wet weather system was due to begin weakening. I made new photos from some of my favorite locations, such as Point Imperial and Cape Royal, but I also worked from several unnamed vistas that were new to me, and I'm eager to share them in upcoming workshops in 2022.
In past years I spent a great deal of time chasing storms in the hopes of photographing lightning, but this year I had new photographic goals in mind. My primary goal was to photograph scenes with clouds below the rim. I was rewarded with an excellent opportunity to create a massive panoramic image of Mount Hayden from Point Imperial. In this photograph, which I've included below, clouds formed deep within the abyss and then rose along the canyon walls, leaving the ridges, peaks, and buttes floating in a sea of clouds.
Castle in the Clouds
Low-hanging clouds drift amongst the temples and castles below the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.
The Gift of Rain
Rain falling into the Grand Canyon from a monsoon storm is backlit by the warm light of the rising sun. After years of drought, which weak monsoons have amplified, the strong showers were a welcome gift. Even as I struggled to wipe away the raindrops accumulating on my camera and lens, I found myself giving thanks and taking a moment to enjoy the experience.
From the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona.
I made this photo from an unnamed perch high on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon after it had rained the night before, leaving the atmosphere cold and damp with monsoon moisture. As the sun rose in the eastern sky, the temperature in the canyon's depths was rapidly warming, and clouds began to build within the canyon. A gentle breeze lifted the clouds along the canyon walls where they swirled amongst the crags.
Chaos in the Chasm
Clouds are ripped apart in the turbulent air within the ragged landscape of the Grand Canyon. Photographed from the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park during the monsoon season.
Clouds drift amongst the cliffs of the North Rim and Freya Castle as early morning light bathes the canyon walls in warm hues. From an unnamed overlook on the rim of the Grand Canyon.
Winds of Change
I was hiking along the Ken Patrick Trail on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, looking for intimate scenes to photograph as the view into the canyon had been obscured by clouds. As I was hiking the trail, a gentle breeze started to whisper through the trees, the leaves on the aspens behind me rustled, and the Douglas firs began to sway. My past experiences had taught me that it would be only minutes before the clouds would begin to part. The challenge was to make the photograph before the canyon cleared out completely.
A break in the weather allows for a brief view of Hancock Butte and Brady Peak. Within a few seconds the clouds had closed in again and the scene was gone. From the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park.
Desert View Finale
Rain falling into the Grand Canyon is backlit by the setting sun. Photographed from Desert View on the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona.
Rain of Fire Approaching
Rain falls upon the temples and buttes of the Grand Canyon as the sun is setting, creating a firey display of color and light.
Rain Falls on the Monsoon Canvas
Summer rains fall into the depths of the Grand Canyon, muting the typically intense Arizona sunlight. The canyon layers take on a pastel-like quality, with nearly every shape and hard edge of the canyon softened by the rain filling the atmosphere. There's a gentleness to this photograph, and it's almost as if the paint on the canvas is still drying.
Angel in the Clouds
Clouds rise out of the Grand Canyon and up along the cliffs forming Angels Window on the North Rim.
Mount Hayden in the Clouds
As a summer monsoon storm clears, the many temples, peaks, and buttes of the Grand Canyon emerge from the clouds, including Mount Hayden, the arrowhead-shaped peak on the left. I photographed this scene from Point Imperial, the highest viewpoint in the park at 8,803 feet above sea level located on the North Rim of the canyon.
Storm Light on Newberry Butte
The layers of ridges within the Grand Canyon fade away into the distance as summer rain falls from a passing monsoon thunderstorm.
Malgosa in Monsoon
Early morning rain falls upon Malgosa Crest, and ridgeline within the Grand Canyon. From Point Imperial on the North Rim.
Nankoweap Rain Veil
Monsoon rains fall upon Nankoweap Butte and Nankoweap Mesa. From Point Imperial on the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park.
The Ghost of Desert Sands
A reddish-orange apparition advances across the Grand Canyon. High winds from monsoon thunderstorms has caused a dust storm on the Navajo Nation to spill over into the canyon. Photographed from the Duck on a Rock overlook on the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park.
Monsoon Apparition from Cape Royal
The day before I made this photograph, it had rained heavily in and around the Grand Canyon. Clouds had formed within the canyon, and visibility dropped to only a few feet at times. The storm had begun to break overnight, and at sunrise, the clouds within the canyon started to burn off, and as they did, the view into the canyon opened up. The atmosphere was still thick with humidity creating a dreamy scene as clouds whisked by Wotans Throne. Photographed from Cape Royal on the North Rim of the canyon.
Lightning Strikes the Coconino
Lightning erupts from a monsoon thunderstorm as the distant western sky lights up after sunset over the Coconino Plateau in northern Arizona.
Rain falling from a summer monsoon storm advancing upon Mount Hayden is backlit by the rising sun. As the rain swept across the landscape, the details of the trees, rocks, and cliff edges began to blur, resulting in a photograph that takes on a very painterly quality.
From Point Imperial, North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park.
Fine Art Prints
The photos are available as large fine art prints. I still have more photographs to add to this gallery, so please check back often to see new photos as they are added. Thank you for stopping by, I hope you enjoy the photos.
The photographs on this page were all made with my Fujifilm GFX 100S, a 102-megapixel medium format mirrorless camera, and Fujifilm lenses. I also used a Really Right Stuff tripod and Acratech Panoramic Head. You can learn more about the equipment I used by clicking on the links below.