5 Photos, 5 Stories: Bill, the Photographer (#4)
I mentioned in my “5 photos and 5 stories #1” that because of the immense sight of the Grand Canyon and my humble lens I was going to take easy on photographing at GC.
This plan was quickly changed after I met Bill at the rim of GC. The evening of our arrival, hubby and I took a walk at the rim toward the village for dinner, where I met Bill. He was standing by the sidewalk of the rim busying with setting up his tripod, camera, and lens. I walked up to him with my Canon on my shoulder, “Are you going to shoot the sunset scene?” He replied, “This is the spot.” He took a looked at my camera and lens, I asked him the camera settings. Hubby has zero interest in photography, he left me there and continued his walk.
Bill began his first shooting at around 6:00 pm while kept talking to me. He said, “I’m testing my camera/lens and watching the sun lights. 20 minutes later when the sun gets down right above that canyon wall, I’m going to start shooting different spots of the canyon down there.” A few minutes later, Bill asked me to get my camera ready to aim at a particular spot (I didn’t expect to shoot with him) and felt the pressure. He said to me, “In about 5 minutes, the sun will be down there (he pointed to the spot) and you are going to aim at this one (he pointed to the spot down from the rim.). You can try with aperture between 7 to 9.” So he snapped first; I followed him. This went on for the next 30 minutes. He said, “When you go back to your hotel, look through these shots from your laptop and compare them, then come back here the next day and do it again and again to get better pictures. That is how you learn. Remember the sun light won’t be the same when you are back next time.”
In between shootings, Bill explained further, “If you want to shoot the sunset scene in the Grand Canyon, you need to know when and where the sun reflects on which spot. If you get it right, you can capture the structure, texture, and colors of the rocks at the same time. Go ahead shoot that rock now, then shoot the same spot 5 minute later. You’ll be able to see the difference.” he said. “But, how do you know when and where the sun reflects on which spot?” I asked. “Well, I have spent a lot of time to study how the sun sets before I came here. I have been here 20 times. The first time I came here, I hiked all the way down to the bottom, camped there a couple of days, crossed the river, then hiked back up here. I was a lot younger and was in much better shape.”
Bill then asked me to show him my shots, which made me very nervous. He told me bluntly, “This one is off the center.” “This one you need to try 55mm instead.” “Need to include shadows.” It was like I paid him for a photography lesson. His final advice was, “Take three shots and merge into a HDR image, then move it to the Photoshop to perfect the image.”
When the sun was disappearing, Bill started packing up his tripod and lens into his camera bag. “How many lens in your bag?” I asked. “12”, he said. “Will I be able to view your photos on the Internet?” “I don’t put my stuff on the Internet.” he answered. “Where do you put them?” “Galleries and studios in New York City and Santa Fé.” “Wooow!!”
I, then, noticed that we hadn’t introduced ourselves to each other. “My name is Amy, I’m from Texas”, “Texas?! I live in Boston, my name is Bill.”. “I feel so privileged talking to you, Bill. Thank you for the lessons…” I watched him pick up his stuff, then walked with him a few steps. “I will be up there before 7 tomorrow morning to shoot sun rising if you want to join me.” He said. But, hubby and I had already planned to hike the next day.
I turned around and saw my hungry hubby standing by the rim. I walked up to him, “I’m so sorry… you won’t believe how much I learn from this guy, he is a photographer. Do you want to hear about him?” I asked. Hubby looked at me with a smile and replied, “Where are we going to eat?”