Return to the Rim World

October 28, 2019

Howdy folks, it's been some time since I've been able to write anything for my website. I've been on the go non-stop since mid-July running workshops, giving presentations, working on several photography projects, and I spent 18 days below the rim of Grand Canyon rafting 225 miles of the Colorado River on a photography expedition.

In July, I was on both the South Rim and North Rim of Grand Canyon as a guest speaker for the National Park Service, sharing my experiences from the ten years I've been photographing the canyon. It was a treat to get to show my photos from rim to river and throughout the seasons, highlighting what makes the canyon such a special place. I met many wonderful people, most of whom are just beginning their love affair with Grand Canyon.

Photo courtesy of Sally Smithies

Photo courtesy of Sally Smithies

During much of August, Sally and I were at the canyon again, this time leading three photography workshops. The participants in our groups were fantastic, and each workshop was sold out with folks on the waiting list. The last workshop of the month was one I led for the Sedona Photography Symposium. Before the workshop at the canyon, I was in Sedona for several days at the symposium, where I gave portfolio reviews and was on their discussion panel fielding questions from the participants. The organizers of the symposium put together a great program, and I'm excited to announce that I will be back in 2020 as a presenter and to lead the Grand Canyon workshop again.

September was equally busy with the first half of the month dedicated to a commercial photography assignment followed by the start of our 18-day photography expedition rafting the Colorado River through Grand Canyon. The time below the rim on the river was fantastic, and we photographed many great places, including the Nankoweap granaries, North Canyon, Elves Chasm, Deer Creek, and much more.

Return of Sacred Waters

Waterfalls in the Deer Creek Narrows, just below ‘The Patio’ in Grand Canyon National Park. © Adam Schallau, All Rights Reserved.

For this expedition, FUJIFILM North America loaned me their newest camera, the GFX 100. I've been shooting with the GFX system, including the GFX 50R and 50S cameras, plus several lenses since July, but the GFX 100 is a medium format monster! This camera has a 102-megapixel sensor that is 70% larger than the sensors found in full-frame cameras and is capable of capturing 16-bit raw files. The camera has In-Body Image Stabilization (IBIS) along with weather sealing at 95 points, making it perfect for the extreme conditions of dust and moisture in the canyon. I have a lot to say about shooting with this camera, but I'm going to leave that for an upcoming post here on my blog. Until then, I invite you to see the images of Grand Canyon I created with the FUJIFILM GFX 100.

The FUJIFILM GFX 100 medium format camera. Photo courtesy of Sally Smithies

There was some excitement on the river trip when, on day nine, the raft I was riding in flipped in "the hole" in Crystal Rapid. If you're not familiar with Crystal Rapid and its reputation, there is much to read on the web. I'm not much of a swimmer, and truth be told, I'm terrified of water, and the flip in Crystal was just about a worst-case scenario for me.

The boatman, Art, injured his shoulder in the flip and was in great pain, which led to the trip leader coming to me in our camp that night and asked if I would be up for learning to row. I began rowing the very next day and did so for the remainder of the trip, a total of 9 days and almost 120 miles. My time on the oars included rowing some big rapids such as Walthenberg Rapid, Upset Rapid, and the infamous Lava Falls Rapid, where I was spun 180 degrees by the river and rowed much of the rapid going backward. I look forward to sharing more about the flip in Crystal Rapid and rowing the Colorado River in a future post

Rowing Walthenberg Rapid on the Colorado River in Grand Canyon. Photo courtesy Yaz Loukhal

Now that I've returned to the "Rim World" and I can reflect on the summer of 2019, I find that I made many great memories. I'm thankful for the opportunity to have met and worked with wonderful people, and shared in some incredible experiences, including the flipping of the raft in Crystal Rapid.

2019 Grand Canyon & Colorado River Photography Expedition Team