Saturday, December 27, 2014

Grand Canyon Inversion

Phase One DF/IQ180 150mm f/6.3 1/250 ISO 35
Sony A7r FE70-200 (104mm) f/11 1/320 ISO 125

Normally when visitors come to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon they expect to see the majestic wonders of looking into the canyon and seeing the North Rim in the distance. And normally they would. December 2014 offered a rare treat for visitors; first on December 13th then again on the 20th. While we missed the first one, we were fortunate to witness the second on the 20th. We're uncertain if the weather service is calling the 20th an inversion as it looks like it only effected part of the canyon. Arriving the morning of the 20th we were greeted with scattered clouds near Mather Point however the further east we went the more clouds we began seeing until the entire canyon was filled.

Phase One DF/IQ180 80mm  f/8 1/320 ISO 35

Sony A7r FE24-70 (24mm) f/6.3 1/100 ISO 50

Looking at the effect of the clouds covering the canyon makes one believe you're on the top of the world looking down. Views of the beautiful colors normally found inside the canyon are obscured with clouds. The North Rim is just barely visible and you can forget seeing the Colorado River. What you do see is peaks that are just barely visible inside the canyon as they take on an appearance of creatures swimming in a sea of whip cream.

Phase One DF/IQ180 80mm f/8 1/400 ISO 35
Sony A7r FE70-200(123mm) f/8 1/100 ISO 50

The National Weather Service says the event happens about once every couple years.  Don has been fortunate to see this during a visit several years ago near Bright Angel Trail Overlook and happened to photograph it as it began clearing.  This year we sat for several hours watching the event unfold without it dissipating.  We stopped at several overlooks slowly making our way to Desert View finally stopping at Grand View where we could just barley make out the tower in the distance.

Sony A7r FE24-70 (70mm) f/8 1/100 ISO 50 

From what we understand, the clouds are forced down by warm air and are unable to rise above the rim thus causing an inversion.  An inversion can last several hours to most of the day when fog sticks around and is built up overnight when there isn't any wind.  I remember the morning being cold yet with no wind once the sun rose it felt warmer.

Sony A7r FE70-200 (70mm) f/7.1 1/125 ISO 80

Closer to the canyon walls you'll be greeted with what can best be described as a surf effect as the clouds/fog move against the walls.  While many visitors were probably disappointed in not being able to see the bottom of the canyon they nevertheless were treated to a visually beautiful event like none other.  Just another reason to visit one of the seven natural wonders of the world.

Sony A7r FE70-200 (97mm) f/13 1/250 ISO 50
Cambo WRS/IQ180 40mm HR 3-shot panorama
Next stop is Moab so stay tuned.

Sandy & Don

1 comment:

  1. some pictures it looks like white water...just amazing pictures!