If there is such a thing as a Photographer’s Mecca this has to be Upper Antelope Canyon. Anyone that takes pictures in the Southwest has to go to the Upper Antelope Canyon. Not only photographers pilgrim to this sanctuary. It became over the last 30 years one of the most popular attractions in the surroundings of Page. Do not even think of visiting the area and not going to the Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon. HOWEVER, there is a real problem in going to the Antelope Canyon. Not only you and whoever is with you that will show up there. At least half of all tourists in Page will be there too. I never have seen such a packed place like this in the Southwest and you can imagine how people get when it is packed. Everyone feels to be entitled to get what he and she was paying for. It feels like being in line for check in or for a TSA screening at the airport. It is a mess and stressful.
Taking serious photography is a real challenge. If you prefer to have it relaxed and calm I suggest to avoid the Upper Antelope Canyon and focus on the Lower Antelope Canyon or even better signing up for a rather expensive visit to the X-Canyon.
Getting to the Upper Antelope Canyon:
To explore the Upper Antelope Canyon you will have to be part of a guiding tour. You cannot do an individual tour. I recommend booking for a tour with Antelope Canyon Tours by Roger Ekis. There are two types of tours being offered. The less expensive is a generic one where you walk with your group through the canyon and take images randomly. The second option is for people that want to have more bang for their bucks. The guide is attentive to show particular features and helps throwing up sand so that you can get shots with fantastic light beams. For further details and prices I suggest you to click on the link provided above. Make sure that you book several weeks or even better, months ahead. The photographic tours fill up extremely fast.
A typical Upper Antelope Canyon shot is the one that has a light beam or a sand fall. This means that everyone is throwing sand up in the air along the entire slot canyon. The air is saturated with dust. It is highly recommended that you do your lens choice before you enter the canyon to avoid having your sensor covered with dust. A zoom lens (24-70mm or similar) will do best. Filters can be left in your bag as there is no use for them here. A tripod is mandatory!
The beams are a summer phenomenon and the ideal time to photograph them is during the first portion of the 11:30 tour. The tour consists of walking up the canyon and then all the way back to the truck which brought you to the canyon. So, if you want to photograph the beams do it while you are walking up the canyon because latter the sun is already not hitting the canyon vertically anymore and the beams will be gone. During the second part of the tour you should dedicate your attention to explore the form and texture of the walls and create some sand falls.
Take water in summer and warm clothes in winter. It can get unbearably hot in summer and extremely cold in winter.
Last update: June 15, 2011