Today, I Celebrate…

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“Let whatever you do today be enough.”



Story behind the photo…

From WikipediaDesert View Watchtower, also known as the Indian Watchtower at Desert View, is a 70-foot (21 m)-high stone building located on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon within Grand Canyon National Park in ArizonaUnited States. The tower is located at Desert View, more than 20 miles (32 km) to the east of the main developed area at Grand Canyon Village, toward the east entrance to the park. The four-story structure, completed in 1932, was designed by American architectMary Colter, an employee of the Fred Harvey Company who also created and designed many other buildings in the Grand Canyon vicinity including Hermit’s Rest and the Lookout Studio. The interior contains murals by Fred Kabotie.[3]

The watchtower was the last of the series of Mary Colter-designed visitor concession structures at the Grand Canyon until her renovation of the Bright Angel Lodge in 1935. The tower was designed to resemble an Ancient Pueblo Peoples watchtower, but its size dwarfs any known Pueblan-built tower. The closest prototypes for such a structure may be found at Hovenweep National Monument.The structure is composed of a circular coursed masonry tower rising from a rubble base. The base was intentionally designed to convey a partly ruinous appearance, perhaps of an older structure on which the watchtower was later built. The base is arranged within a large circle with the tower to the north. Tiny windows are irregularly disposed, some of which are themselves irregular in shape. The main space is the Kiva Room in the base structure, apparently roofed with logs that were salvaged from the old Grandview Hotel. The ceiling is a false structure concealing the roof structure that supports an observation deck. The Kiva Room features a fireplace with a large picture window directly above where the chimney would ordinarily go. Smoke is drawn away through an offset, concealed flue. The room still contains its original furnishings, which are part of the historic designation.[4] A separate, apparently ruinous structure was actually built in that form to provide a storage place for firewood.[5]

The tower rises as an open shaft lined by circular balconies overlooking the central space. Access from balcony to balcony is provided by small stairways. At the top the space is decked over, creating an enclosed observation level with large glazed windows. An open observation area on the roof of this space is now closed to visitors and is used for radio equipment. The steel and concrete structure of the observation level is concealed behind plaster, stone and wood. The tower is decorated by bold murals by Fred Kabotie, with other, petroglyph-style decorations by Fred Greer. Small windows in the tower’s shaft let beams of light into the lower space.[4]

I loved the dramatic skies as a background to the Hermit’s Rest structure and stood back a bit to reduce the paralax effect.  The range of exposure was greater than I could capture in one frame so, I dialed in a 5 frame bracket with a base exposure of ISO 200 f11 @ 1/60 sec.  I later processed the five images into an HDR using Photomatix Pro and then added my own creative touches in Photoshop CS6 with NIK filters (Infrared B&W #2 with a Layer Mask painting out the effect on the building, Detail Extractor, Brilliance and Warmth) finished it off.  Nikon D4, AF-S 28-300mm 3.5-5.6 VR @ 32mm.



  1. Linda Green says:

    very beautiful and creative pp…I know this place well. And, thanx for the info about Mary Colter; I shall look her up in the Nat’l Register….

    • Thanks Linda, Same architect but, I goofed on the location…other end of the park. It’s the Watchtower at Desert View! :)

  2. Bob Kelly says:

    Sorry Laurie….the tower you showed is not located at Hermit’s Rest, west of the south rim village, but rather the tower is part of an area called Desert View which is located a few miles east of the south rim village. I am not sure if the tower has a name other than just Desert View, so called for looking to the east you can see the vast desert in that direction, but from the top of it is an unparalleled view of the canyon and the Colorado River. The tower is amazing and looks far far older than 1914, which was the way Mary Jane Colter wanted it to look. I love this whole area, and go there with excitement each and every time.

    • You are so right, Bob! Thanks for the heads up. Wrong end of the park. It’s the Watchtower at Deset View. :)
      I made the correction.

  3. Isamu Maruhashi says:

    Wow, this looks like it came out of Lord of the Rings. Great image!