In this article i’ll talk about some tips i used to take pictures inside the Antelope Canyon…When I visited this place I felt like a little Indiana Jones…It’s misterious, silent, colorful and unreal…..It’s a huge rock fracture with great light games, technically called “slot canyon” which differs from a typical canyon because the space inside is very narrow
Every year during the winter season the rain flows inside by smoothing out the rocky walls on both sides, producing a “waving” effect. Then, during midday, raylights penetrate inside from top, by creating a magic atmosphere
PLANNING MY VISIT: WHEN AND HOW
By correctly planning the visit, pictures will be great.
Antelope is not the only slot canyon existant, but surely is the most famous, and it can easily become crowded during weekends. I preferred to plan the visit during a week day like monday or tuesday. However, whatever i planned, i wasn’t allowed to visit it for my own. I had to book a private tour, because Antelope Canyon is a property of Navajo native americans people and closed to public access. Here are some further informations about this argument:
The near city of Page includes agencies which propose a tours inside it. I could choose among a standard tour, or a photography tour where I had more time to shoot and the assistance of a human guide which could help a little bit with camera settings. The tour consisted of a short trip on jeep and a walk inside the place, a couple of hours in total. I booked the tour of midday, the tour starting at 12 o’clock, otherwise i would have lost the raylight effect show.
To see the raylights, i also avoided cloudy days. It can be a nice idea to check the Page city weathercast before booking. It can be done by clicking here:
WHERE TO STAY
For me the best place to stay is the already cited city of Page. It was full of everything i needed, restaurants, Walmart department stores, hotels, tour agencies, and even the scenic Lake Powell which i suggest to visit after the Antelope Canyon for its nice landscape and the possibility to make a pleasant cruise for a cheap price (i did it all in one day, Antelope in the morning, Powell in the afternoon).
Here are more info about Page city
While following is the link there to the official guide of Lake Powell
PHOTOGRAPHY TIPS: HOW I PREPARED AND USED MY EQUIPMENT
Here we go with the photography part. Following are some important aspects of Antelope Canyon:
PROTECTING CAMERA FROM DUST: one of the most common problem inside this place is the high presence of dust and sand. It’s very important to protect the camera. I think the best method is to wrap it inside a transparent bag, one of those used for putting the food inside the freezer. In Italy they are called “Cuki Gelo”. I put the open part of the bag on the same side of the lens, and fixed it with an elastic. Eventually i created some little holes with scissors around buttons to make it more comfortable. For the same reason, i personally preferred to play as less as possible with the zoom, to furtherly reduce the amount of dust entering inside.
I DECIDED THE LENS IN ADVANCE: avoid to change the lens inside the canyon due to the strong dust. I preferred to mount it when i was still at the tourist centre. Once onboard of the truck, i didn’t change it anymore, as even the track wheels produces lot of dust. Regarding the focal lenght, i got nice results with my 16mm DX, although a fisheye could be even better. I suppose that even a 18mm can produce a quite acceptable result if one doesn’t want to spend more money (as long as he understands that it’s a cost/benefit compromise)
BUY A CLEANSING KIT: once I finished, i found useful to clean my camera, because, although protected with a bag, there could be still some dust. To remove the dust i usually detach the lens, raise up the mirror from the menu option of the camera, and gently use compressed air on both pieces (lens and body). Otherwise it is possible to bring the camera in a professional center. In my case, in the city of Page, near Pizza Hut, i found a department store which sold camera equipment, including memory cards and cleansing kits.
I AVOIDED THE TRIPOD: Inside the Antelope Canyon is quite common to see people using a tripod. Sincerly, i had a camera with a good high ISO quality,so i preferred to avoid it. The reason for not suggesting the tripod is that the Antelope Canyon was crowded, and even by taking a photography tour, it was full of guys like me who wanted to put down their tripod and take the shot….it’s very annoying and there’s no enough space to accomodate everyone nor enough time to handle it…Sincerly, i increased a little bit the ISO and kept my hands steady, and i easily took some handheld sharp shots (read the section below for my settings)
TIP TO AVOID BLURNESS: there’s a simple tip i used instead of using the tripod. Once inside, i could lean myself on the walls of the antelope canyon to be more steady. It really worked, at least for me
SETTINGS TO TAKE THE SHOT: These are the steps i followed to manage the exposure and other settings
- i increased the aperture as much as possible. Around f4 in my case, since my lens didn’t allow me to go further. Anything wider of f4 i was also afraid it could have reduced too much the depth of field.
- I have put the iso at 100
- I have put a short focal lenght….let’s say 16mm DX
- i turned on the exposure delay mode on my Nikon to reduce vibrations
- i turned on the stabilizer to help me with the handheld shot
- I checked the shutter speed and tried, as a “rule of thumb”, to keep it 2 o 3 times higher than the focal lenght by gradually raising up the ISO, (example, for 16mm around 1/20 or 1/40, and for 40mm around 1/50 or 1/80)
- I finally checked every single picture to confirm it was sharp
By doing this, i was able to take nice wide angle shots with short focal lenght with average values ranging around 1/30, iso 200/400, and f.4.0, more or less, depending by the single perspective and the amount of light. One could even push exposure and reduce iso to 100, or make it faster by increasing iso if the sensor is good enough, based also on his own ability to be steady
Concluding, if one is enough trained to take a sharp shot at speeds around 1/20 or 1/30 with a short focal lenght i think it will be ok. Otherwise, if one is still not sure of his ability, and especially he also doesn’t like his camera high ISO quality, the tripod remains the only option for me
I really enjoyed to visit this place, it’s great, it’s unbelievable and unique. I hope to visit it again one day
Thanks for reading!
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