Sixtymile - Grand Canyon Notes

About Cameras

You may be anticipating some helpful information about selecting and using a camera to record your Grand Canyon adventure. That is not what this is about.

I dislike cameras, so that explains why there are not many pictures here. What I really mean is that I dislike the way carrying a camera affects how I look at things. If you make it a habit to hike with a camera, try leaving it behind and see if you notice a difference. I find I look at things more intently and when I scan the scene before me I am thinking about where I am, how I got there, and responding to the view and how I feel about that experience. Knowing there is no camera to remember for me I "fix" the image and feeling together in the moment. I want to and need to feel that emotional link and I find that those moments stay with me for years afterward.

Of course, those impressions can't be shared with friends and family at home. I do take pictures sometimes when I need to document a route or want to share something about my hiking experiences by showing slides, and I enjoy doing that very much. Anyway, almost all of my hiking was before I had webpages that wanted for pictures.

Grand Canyon is really hard on cameras. One slip on a loose or wet rock will drown it or smash it on something. Beach sand is amazingly fine and carried by the most gentle nightime breeze it will invade everything, even inside your pack. Sand will totally destroy any camera. And people have been known to set one down for a moment and walk away only to realize it's missing at a point far too late and distant to go back -- and that's not as far as you might think before it happens.

Options if you feel you need a camera:

  • Single-use cameras minimize cost and weight and the panoramic type is especially appropriate for Grand Canyon. Take at least 2 and don't expect to impress anyone with the picture quality. But they are simple and almost totally foolproof and easily the most reliable.
  • A good automatic point & shoot camera is compact and effective even with slide film for taking landscape views in the typically ideal daylight in Grand Canyon. But they are best for prints so expect to have some bad shots with slides. Don't start a hike with old batteries and no spares.
  • Digital cameras offer the most options for the greatest variety of uses and sending pictures to distant friends. And they are lighter than traditional film cameras. Carrying extra batteries is a pain and worrying about running out of power on a long trip is a worse distraction than the camera.

If you have a good camera and want to keep it in good condition and decide to take it on your hike, always stuff it in a plastic baggie between pictures. Carrying a camera that is not working anymore may not allow the same positive outlook as choosing to leave it at home.


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