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A Guest post by Amar Ramesh.
Antelope Canyons in page Arizona is one of the most exquisite gifts of nature that is generally overlooked by people traveling to Arizona.
The sandstone canyons lit from the streak of light passing right through the slots makes it one the most serene places in the world. Located at the Navajo Tribal Park near Lake Powell, these canyons have narrow paths, created by water flowing through them for millions of years. It’s a photographer’s paradise. Listed below are some the quick and easy tips that would help you take better pictures in these canyons.
Like for any travel, do your homework and get to know the place. There are two canyons – Upper and Lower – both located in Page, AZ. Mid-day(11am-1pm) between the months of March and October is the best time to photograph these slots, with the shafts of light shining down from the openings above. There are photography tours available in both upper and lower canyons. Even though it’s a little expensive than the ordinary tour, it’s totally worth it. The guides who take you along the photography tour generally do a wonderful job helping you ‘chase’ the light. I highly recommend it.
Use the widest angle lens from your arsenal. You have to capture a wider area with light streaks and you absolutely need a wide angle lens to do this. If you don’t own one, try renting it. Tripod is a must and make sure you turn off image stabilization. A remote trigger would help remove the vibration caused by pressing the shutter button.
An important note to remember if you are shooting with a DSLR is that you should not change your lenses inside these canyons because of the amount of dust in the air. Trust me you wouldn’t want to change your lenses inside the canyons. If you have a second camera, by all means, take it along with a different lens on it. You will get a different perspective. And yes, carry a cloth to clean the lenses frequently.
The canyons are generally crowded. People keep streaming in and out, in large groups. So expect people both in front and behind you. With so much going around its easy to be engrossed into the view finder. So advice would be try using the live view, as well as an articulating screen (some of the newest cameras have them). When you are ready to take the shot, you can quickly check the view finder and make sure everything is good and press the shutter. This will help you be aware of things happening around you.
Set the camera in manual mode, shoot RAW. f11 to f18 is the sweet spot for aperture and open the shutter anywhere between 2 and 6 seconds depending on the variation in light to get the best shots. Frequently check your histogram to see how you are doing.
There will be times when you have to wait for a group of people to move before you can take a picture. So try to use that time to come up with different compositions. Look up and try to compose shots. Also remember including people in the picture is not always a bad thing to do.
These canyons are spiritual to the Navajo tribes. They talk about the forms and shapes carved into the rock by water that flows through the canyons. One of the greatest pleasure in shooting these canyons is to see the unseen, find what is hidden, and put them in the center stage and show it in pictures. The stone in the picture below has taken a form of an eagle with open wings. To see more pictures of hidden forms visit my blogpost “Finding the hidden creatures”
Bring some life to the pictures by placing a human subject. Here in this picture I requested a traveler from South America dressed in contrasting colors to be photographed which made the picture interesting.
Look for frames with the most contrast to make it all that more interesting. You can find so many frames with high contrast between the darkest and brightest regions because of the shafts of light that penetrate from above make the center areas of the canyons brighter and the sides darker.
Last but not least food is not allowed inside, so if you are planning to spend a good time in these canyons, have your food before entering the canyons and make sure to carry a water bottle with you.
Amar Ramesh is an emerging photographer from Redmond WA, USA. Photography, to him is a passion with infinite opportunities and he loves to share the lessons and tips that he learned with others. Please visit his Facebook Page for more. He is also in Flickr | Twitter | Portfolio.