Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Antelope Canyon

Close to the top of my intended places to photograph was Antelope Canyon. I was surprised when I drove by Antelope Canyon last year on my way to photograph Horseshoe Bend but had no time to stop. So this trip I made it a destination and as it turned out a multiday destination at that.

I must admit that I was quite intimidated at the prospect of photographing Antelope Canyon. I have seen many, many photographs of Antelope Canyon and felt the world didn't need any more photographs but I had to see it myself and make my own photographs.

I started the day by visiting Lower Antelope Canyon. The first image image is me at the entrance to Lower Antelope Canyon. Just a few steps behind me the canyon drops about 20 feet and thanks to a ladder it is easily navigated. Lower Antelope Canyon drops very deep into the earth. A series of metal ladders makes it easy to navigate the length of the canyon.

I was totally unfamiliar when it came to slot canyon photography and nervously entered Lower Antelope Canyon for the first time. I think my jaw hit the ground when I gazed upon this wonderous place. But the challenge still was how do I photograph such a place. I was in a hurry since I was scheduled to visit Upper Antelope Canyon in less than an hour so my first experience was hurried and rather stressful. But I forged ahead and began making images.

Before long it was time to head across the road to the vehicles waiting to drive a few miles up the wash to Upper Antelope Canyon. Here I had much more time to take in the canyon and with the help of a guide made some of the classical images. A number of those I've included here: the eagle, the bear and Abe Lincoln (see if you can find all 3). What I learned during this time gave me much more confidence to interpret both Antelope Canyons in my own way. Towards the end of my 2 hr tour, actually it lasted more like 2.5 hrs, my guide Jake and I were the only ones in the canyon. I experienced my form of 'quiet', something I seldom experience since I have very poor hearing. Jake leaned back and hummed under a rock. This filled the entire canyon with his sound. It was amazing. We spent some time talking quietly. I so much enjoy being able to come to very popular places like this and having a quiet experience most people are not able to experience.

After finishing the Upper Antelope Canyon tour I returned to Lower Antelope Canyon to finish my 4 hrs of time in the canyon. Only problem was it was about 2:15 and they closed at 3:00. So again I rushed thru Lower Antelope Canyon, it's pretty long. Later that evening I decided to spend another $26 and get my 4 hrs of solid experience in Lower Antelope Canyon.

The next morning Thule and I were at Horseshoe Bend watching a very ordinary sunrise before heading back for a second slot canyon experience. We got there at 10:30 giving me plenty of time to get the whole 4 hrs out of this visit. It was a totally different experience this time. Once in the canyon I put the tripod down and just looked. Slowly looking around forward, backward, up, down searching for a composition that grabbed me. Sometimes I made a few different compositions from the same general area and other times I picked up my tripod and moved on. Slowly I worked my way down the canyon. My intimidation from the previous day had been replaced with respectful confidence. I can't say the time flew by but it didn't take long for it to become 2:45, time to leave.

If I had it to do over again I would do Upper Antelope Canyon one day then Lower the next. I was truly mesmerized by these two slot canyons. It matters not if you are a photographer the experience of one or both of the Antelope Canyons should not be missed. I know that I will return during my next visit to the southwest.



  1. Fantastic! Your pics make me want to take a road trip - there is so much beauty in our land I haven't seen. Thank you for sharing!