In this article i want to show some tips to take great 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 tremendously 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 some magic effects as you can see from my pictures.
PLANNING YOUR VISIT: WHEN AND HOW
If you correctly plan your visit, your pictures will be great. So, don’t miss this paragraph and read it carefully.
Antelope is not the only slot canyon existant, but surely is the most famous, and it can easily become crowded during weekends. I suggest to plan the visit during a week day like monday or tuesday. However, whatever you plan, you are not allowed to visit it for your own. You have to book in advance a private tour, because it’s property of Navajo indians people and closed to public access. Here you can find further informations about this argument:
The near city of Page it’s full of agencies which propose tours inside it. You can choose among a standard tour, or a photography tours where you have more time to shoot and the assistance of a human guide which can help you a little bit with camera settings. The tour consists of a short trip on jeep and a walk inside the place, a couple of hours in total. I strongly recommend you to book the tour of midday, the tour starting at 12 o’clock, otherwise you will definitely loose the raylight effect show.
Useless to say, avoid a cloudy day for the same reason, so, it can be a nice idea to check the weathercast before booking. You can do it by clicking here:
WHERE TO STAY
It’s quite evident, the best place to stay is the already cited city of Page. It’s full of everything you need, restaurants, Walmart department stores, hotels, tour agencies, and even the scenic and wonderful Lake Powell which i suggest to visit after the Antelope Canyon for its great landscape and the possibility to make a romantic cruise for a cheap price (you can do all in just one day, Antelope in the morning, Powell in the afternoon). Here you can get some info about Page:
while at this link you can read the official guide of Lake Powell
PHOTOGRAPHY TIPS: HOW TO PREPARE AND USE YOUR EQUIPMENT
Here we go with the photography part. Following are some important aspects of Antelope Canyon:
PROTECTING YOUR CAMERA FROM DUST: one of the most common problem inside this place is the high presence of dust and sand. It’s very important if you own an expensive camera, to protect it. I think the best method is also the simplest one. Just wrap it inside a transparent bag, one of those used for putting the food inside the freezer. In Italy they are called “Cuki Gelo”. Just put the open part of the bag on the same side of the lens, and fix it with an elastic. Eventually you can create some little holes with scissors around buttons to make it more comfortable. For the same reason, it’s recommended to not change your lens while you are in. More or less, a 18-55 lens, or even a greater fisheye lens should be enough. There’s no need to zoom, except if you are interest in caughting some fine details
DECIDE THE LENS IN ADVANCE: to avoid to change the lens inside the canyon, which is dangerous due to strong dust, i suggest you to set it when you are still at the tourist centre. Once onboard of the truck, don’t change it anymore. Even the track produces lot of dust. As said the 18-55 should be enough. Sometimes a little bit of zoom is useful, but just a little bit, in the range of 35-55. In turn, although the 18mm is enough, you can get some improvement if you can use a 16mm or even a fisheye like a 10mm (PLEASE NOTE: all focal lenghts reported are intended in DX/APS-C camera format)
BUY A CLEANSING KIT: once you finish, it can be useful to clean your camera, because, although you protect it with a bag, whenever you zoom, the dust can pass through the lens and reach the inside of the body. The same is true if you decide to feel more comfortable and avoid to use the transparent bag (at your own risk). The best way to remove dust is to detach the lens, raise up the mirror from the menu option of your body camera, and use compressed air on both pieces (lens and body). If you feel unsure or unsafe just bring your camera in a professional center. They will do it for you. Just in case you need it, in the city of Page, just close to Pizza Hut, there’s a department store which sells camera equipment, memory cards and cleansing kits.
AVOID TRIPOD: Inside the Antelope Canyon is quite common to see people using a tripod. Sincerly, if you have a camera with a good high ISO quality, i suggest to avoid it. Instead, if you see lot of grain and you don’t like it you are forced to use it. The reason for not suggesting the tripod is that the Antelope Canyon it’s crowded, and even if you take a photography tour, it’s full of guys like you who want 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, if you increase a little bit the ISO and your hands are steady, you can easily take an handheld shot (read the section below for instructions)
TIPS TO AVOID BLURNESS: there’s a simple tips you can use instead of bringing the tripod. Once inside, you can lean yourself on the walls of the antelope canyon to be more steady. It really works, at least for me
SETTINGS TO TAKE THE SHOT: this is a crucial point, however, if you follow my steps you can be 100% sure your pictures will be sharp. As i said above, i suggest to avoid the tripod because it’s tremendously uncomfortable.
- First of all, increase the aperture as much as possible. Around f4 should be fine. More than f4 the depth of field could be too much narrowed
- Put the iso at 100
- Choose your focal lenght….let’s say 18mm, which is a quite nice and common wide angle, especially on cheapest cameras
- Now the crucial part. Check the shutter speed. It must be always 2 times the focal lenght, or, with the stabilizer turned on, it can be also the same as the focal lenght, but never smaller, except if you are a very experienced guy. Once you read the value, you must raise up the ISO until it respects this condition.
EXAMPLE: if the focal lenght is 18mm, the shutter speed must be at least around 1/40 without stabilizer, or 1/20 with stabilizer, but never smaller, like 1/10 or 1/5 except if you are a very experienced and steady guy. So, once you read the shutter speed, raise up the ISO until the exposure matches this condition and the job is done.
NOTE 1 REGARDING MIRROR VIBRATION: on most reflex cameras it’s a good idea to activate the “exposure delay mode”, which helps in reducing blurness due to movement of the internal camera mirror. I strongly suggest to activate it if you can
NOTE 2 REGARDING THE ISO QUALITY: once again, as said above, some cameras has a good high ISO quality, while others not. If you think your camera is terrible at high ISO, of course is better to opt out for the tripod, although more or less you shouldn’t need to go beyond ISO 400/800 in the canyon. The best thing to do is to make some trial shots at home to understand the higher iso at which you still consider the quality as good. In particular, as a reference, keep in mind that i managed to take the shots with an ISO between 400 and 800. If the quality at this value is acceptable for your taste, go on with the handhelded shot, otherwise, pull out the tripod
IF YOU GET LOT OF BLURRED PICTURES AND YOU WANT TO IMPROVE YOUR PHOTOGRAPHY SKILL READ MY ARTICLE:
I hope you will visit this place, it’s great, it’s unbelievable and unique. If you need more help just write me a message….