One of the highlights of my entire US West Coast road trip was visiting
the Antelope Canyon. For years this had been on my wish list and when
we finally started planning this trip this year, I could not leave this
one out. It’s a long drive from the Grand Canyon to the Antelope Canyon
but it’s well worth the drive. If you are a photographer, I would
recommend driving up to Page and staying there for at least one day.
Doing this you will have loads of photographic opportunities you won’t
regret later (Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, White Pocket, Lake Powell).
While I’m no expert on photographing the Antelope Canyon (I’m no expert
at all really), here are some tips that may come in handy!
I know you’re thinking about cranking up that iso to a higher volume. Unless you’re going to the Upper Antelope Canyon (which is the more popular one), you don’t need a high iso at all in the Lower Antelope Canyon. The difference between the two is the shape of the canyons. The Lower has a V-shape, which means it’s narrower down and wider up. You will be surprised at how much light comes in! The Upper is the exact opposite – it’s narrower up and wider down.
2. Wide lens
It’s incredibly dusty down there so reconsider changing lenses down there. If you have multiple cameras, bring them all. I guarantee you’re going to want to change up your shooting range. If you, like me, don’t have that luxury, go with a wide lens. A wide lens takes up so much more of the incredible wide space of the canyon and will prove much more versatile than a portrait lens. These photos were taken with the Canon L 17-40mm f4.0.
This is a difficult one. I expected having to use a wide aperture. I had reserved a tour in the morning so I knew the light wouldn’t be too harsh. However, because the canyon flooded the night before, we couldn’t do our tour until noon. At this time, the sun was at its highest point so we had so much harsh light coming in, I did not need a wide aperture. In hindsight, going with a lower aperture was even better. I did not like the photos where I did set a wider aperture because in a canyon, blurry backgrounds is not something you’re looking for. Instead, you want to take it all in.
4. Move around
The canyon has so many angles and I’ve tried shooting from so many different point of views. Shoot up, down, sideways, leaning with your back against the narrow walls to find that sweet spots of low light. It was a challenge! Our guide was a photographer himself so he had loads of tips on where to get the best angles. A tour will take you down the canyon for one hour, which will be enough to take photos if you’re not a professional. The next time though, I would love to take the photography tour, which will take you down the canyon for four hours.
5. RAW + manual
As always, shoot RAW and shoot manual!