Steve Kossack was a co-instructor on the May 2002 Grand Canyon Workshop Expedition. This page contains some of his selected photographs from that trip.


I was continually reminded of just how small and fragile my existence in this very hostile place is. Being exposed to the elements for eight days continuously is something most people never experience. These two "twin" images illustrate my point. As we hiked Garnet Canyon, a side canyon off the river, we were treated to a sunset of passing clouds and color.

Both images were hand held with the Canon 70-200 2.8 IS, "Sunset" was under exposed to make sure the cliffs would be a silhouette. Clearing clouds was metered just off the lightest part of the clouds trying to hold the rays that I saw. I wadded into the river (8 days in the sand will do this to you!) trying for a low angle that would show the vastness and power of this marvelous canyon that the river has carved. It was only after not really being happy with my composition that I realized that the perspective I was seeking, was wide! The 30mm on my X-Pan was perfect. It made the rocks appear to surround and tower over me, and gave the "feel" I was after.


Sometimes what you don’t include is as important as what you do. One of the major photographic obstacles in the canyon is the "clutter" that this place of extremes creates. With wind, rain, heat and cold, this chasm creates its own weather. Things (including people at times) are strewn everywhere. This can be a tough place to find a composition. Here I hid the river bank and used the reflection for a focal point to set off my "S curves" The lack of contrast and the pastels, I thought, gave a moment of tranquility.


Being fortunate enough to make "the trip of a lifetime" a second time, I felt much more comfortable with my subject. Being involved with what was essentially a private trip gave me the ability to focus on my environment, and in turn, to concentrate on how to translate it to film. As Norman McLean said in his fine book, "Eventually all things merge into one ……… And a river runs through it …….. I am haunted by waters".

In this photograph I saw the power of the setting sun on the canyon walls. My feeling was to try and bring to the foreground the same interest, and to hide the clutter of the rocks in-between. The use of fill flash in the field is risky at best and my advice is always to shoot one frame without. Here I liked the results. Without the fill I wouldn’t have had an image.

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© 2002 Steve Kossack