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Another Amazing Feat of Nature

The story goes that hundreds of years ago herds of antelope grazed on the grounds where natural forces carved an assortment of narrow passages through the sandstone to create what native Americans call Tsé bighánílíní or the place where water runs through the rocks.

This sacred Navajo monument is commonly known as Upper Antelope Canyon. This slot canyon is a phenomenal site to experience and photograph.

Since Antelope Canyon is a Navajo Tribal Park, access is is granted only through one of five guide services that operate from nearby Page, Arizona which is also home to the Glen Canyon Dam. I chose to take an extended 2-1/2 hour photographic tour.

I’ll illustrate my visit with photos that show you the scale of the passageways and canyon walls in relation to the size of an average visitor.


This is one of vehicles used by our tour operator. The ride from Page to the canyon entrance takes about twenty minutes.

Notice the vehicle’s sizable off-road tires.

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The canyon entrance is at the end of a long, sandy road, hence the need for off-road, four wheel drive transportation.

The road is actually a wide channel that serves to drain the watershed for a large part of northeastern Arizona.

With five tour operators, there is a steady stream of visitors coming and going.

This is the parking area immediately in front of the entrance. My experience was that each of the tours was well organized.


Judging from the size of the two photographers here, you can gauge the narrowness of the pathways in the slot canyon.

The color of the canyon walls varies greatly. Here the opening at the top of the wall is quite wide so it lets in a lot of bright light.

The pathways are very level making it easy to walk on the hard packed dirt surface.

You can see that the walls jut out randomly along the pathway. As you are walking, you need to take care not to bump your head or appendages.

The coloring is quite different here. The dim lighting accentuates the texturing of the rocks.


The widest part of the canyon is a cathedral-like alcove near the entrance.

Here the canyon opens to about 30 feet wide and the walls are simply splendid.


For anyone interested, I chose the 2-1/2 hour photographic tour from Antelope Canyon Tours. The cost was $80.

Before this visit, Antelope Canyon had been on my list of “must see” places for several years. Now that I’ve experienced this enjoyable place, I am again thoroughly impressed by Mother Nature.

 

 
Written by: Arnie Lee

 

 

 

 


The Case For a Tripod

I’ve never been a big user of tripods. I have nothing against using them and in fact I own several of them. I use a tripod mostly around the studio when shooting still life and products. But when I’m shooting out of the studio, I rarely take one along. I like the lightweight freedom and try to minimize the amount of gear that I carry. And I am not very patient trying to set up for a shot. When traveling by airplane a tripod is just not very convenient.

 

That being said, I found a tripod very helpful on my most recent outing.

To be completely truthful, I didn’t use a conventional tripod. Instead I carried a Joby Gorillapod.

The Gorillapod is a very lightweight flexible stand. It has a 1/4″x20 screw for mounting to your camera’s tripod socket. Its legs are jointed and bendable to provide a stable platform even when rested on uneven surfaces.

I carried a Gorillapod with me while exploring Antelope Canyon in northern Arizona. These are slot canyons formed from sandstone and carved by wind and water over millions of years. What is thrilling about these formations is that light filters it way from above through narrow passages creating amazingly colorful visuals as you hike through the passageways.

 

During daylight, the canyon is dimly lit yet remains easily and comfortably walkable. Photographically, there is enough light in some areas to shoot handheld. However to capture images of some of the more dimly lit rock faces, you’ll need to use longer exposure times e.g. 1/2 second or longer. Not many of us can handhold at these slower shutter speeds.

Knowing this ahead of time, I mounted one of my cameras on the Gorillapod. As you can see from its short legs, when placed on the ground it’s not convenient to use unless you’re kneeling down. In the canyon, the rocks are the perfect surface on which to rest this mini tripod.

For much of the tour, I’m looking upwards towards the light entering the canyon from above. To capture a long exposure, I twisted the legs to conform with the contour of an adjacent rock surface to make a “rock steady” platform. I used this technique for exposures up to two full seconds.

If you too are a non-tripod guy like me, you might find it useful during one of these outings to include a very portable tripod. There are several brands of portable steadying devices. You can find out more about the one I used at Joby Gorillapod

If you’re interested in visiting these amazing slot canyons located near Page, Arizona, you’ll want to book a tour with one of the five Navajo owned companies. I chose an extended photo tour 2-1/2 hours instead of the normal 1-1/2 hour tours. I booked through Antelope Canyon Tours and our tour guide Rosie was splendid in pointing out many of the colorful formations and giving us photo shooting tips.

 

 

Written by: Arnie Lee