Looking Over a Billion Years

Toroweap overlook and the Colorado River far below.
A small human figure sits near the edge of Toroweap looking down into the deep canyon.
A sitting woman in the distance caught my attention as sunset approached.  She was backlit and the sun was far enough north in the sky to be out of frame.  The sun sent some amazing orange rays of light on the far canyon cliffs which then bounced off the redwall where I stood.  The dark greens of the Colorado River at the bottom of the canyon separate the two dramatic sides. 
A rounded boulder sits overlooking the Colorado River at the Grand Canyon
Rock with a View

Deep Toroweap: most frightening place in Arizona

Toroweap overlook frightens all visitors
Toroweap:  That's a 3,000 foot drop, sonny!
Toroweap scares the *#%@ out of me!  It's straight down 3,000 feet and there's no rail to protect anybody.  You can walk all along the ledge and everywhere the danger is just right there to the south.  I worry about wind tipping someone off balance and then it's too late.  Some guys were throwing a football to each other by the edge when I was there.  Another couple were sipping some beer while sitting 6 feet from the edge.

That's not me:  I am a bonafide chicken when it comes to edges that lead to certain death.  I may peer over but I keep my center of balance over my back foot and don't dwell very long.  I think this shot shows why I'm so scared of Toroweap.  There's the edge and what's that just over the edge?  Yeah, it's the giant Colorado River.  It looks small because it's 3,000 feet straight down!  I go because it's a beautiful landscape but I leave because of a gut feeling that it's just unsafe.  So enjoy the shot because I am not heading to Toroweap again anytime soon.

Half and Half Rock: Gem of Coyote Buttes South

Yellow and purple striped rock in Arizona
Half and Half Rock:  Yellow and Purple Strips run through everything here!
Half and Half Rock is an extension of the surrounding stripes running throughout Coyote Buttes South.  Not only is it amazing that the stripe runs exactly though the middle of the rock but it's mind-blowing that the same stripe continues across the ground and up onto the northern wall of sandstone.  It's like someone with purple chalk drew a wandering line through the whole landscape without regard to obstacles. 

This small wonder is one of the first places the casual visitor to Coyote Buttes South discovers.  He sits right on the eastern border and the sandy trail leads to this general area from the parking lot.  If you seek, you will find.  If GPS coordinates help, then here it is:  N 36°57'39.3"  W 111°59'16.9".

A literal rock star, this little guy has been photographed by some of the most famous landscape photographers.  Fatali flipped his photograph to make it a mirror image of reality.  I photographed Half and Half rock with a variety of lenses trying to get some pleasing compositions.  The above shot was taken at 104mm at f/16.  The longer focal length compresses the lines on the rock and the lines behind on the sandstone wall. 

(I should note that these were taken in the middle of the day in December, with the sun low in the sky but just about directly south of my location.)

A totally different view can be had with a wide angle lens.  Here I shot 17mm and got very close to the stone.  This allows a whole landscape view with the peaks and hills in the distance.  Although Half and Half Rock occupies roughly the same area in the picture, the surroundings are much further away and smaller with the 17mm lens.  In this shot, you can also see a depression just to the upper left of the Rock.  This is often filled with water or even snow, but I had no recent moister before my trip.  I personally like the dry look. 
Coyote Buttes South purple sandstone
Wide angle view of Half and Half Rock with the surrounding hills of sandstone.
How you place the lines your photograph also give creative variations.  My top shot has the background lines on the left of the Rock.  My 17mm shot has the lines perfectly aligned.  Below the background lines are on the right of the Rock, kind-of like a scarf blowing in the wind.
Coyote Butte South Lines of purple and yellow
Half and Half Rock under the Lines
Then, of course, there is the selfie shot.
St. George Photographer Gordon Smith taking landscapes
Gordon Smith and Half and Half Rock:  Photographer and Subject share the moment.