Antelope Canyon

Antelope CanyonIf you are a photographer, or even just a run-of-the-mill denizen of Planet Earth, you’ve seen a photograph of Antelope Canyon; an awe-inspiring, hidden gem.

Well, awe inspiring anyway given that it is hidden no more thanks to the internet. Now, thousands throng to the slot canyon outside of Page, Arizona hoping to capture a shot to post onto their Instagram to declare to everyone that “I too have been here!” Antelope CanyonThe serenity that photos of Antelope Canyon convey, therefore, is pure fiction. The reality is that photographing Antelope Canyon–at least Upper Antelope Canyon–is the equivalent of a photographic blood-sport. And even with that warning, you still will not be prepared for the crush of humanity squeezing through the slot canyon, which, at times, is no wider than your shoulders.

As for the special “photography” tours that tour operators offer, keep in mind that you will still be in the canyon with at least three other non-photography tours of 40 people each at the same time as your “photography” tour. And it is guaranteed that at least one of those people will walk through at least one of your shots if they don’t actually knock into your camera while they walk aimlessly viewing the canyon through their smartphone.

Antelope CanyonThe only real advantage of a photography tour is that you can bring a tripod for the long exposure shots that are necessary to capture the light at the bottom of the canyon without a sh*t ton of noise. You still won’t have the canyon to yourself, you still won’t have time to do much more than “spray and pray,” and you still won’t be able to breath given all the dust kicked up by the hordes.

Pro tip: don’t drop your lens cap. It will stop working; as will your camera if you even think about changing lenses in the canyon. It is also a bad time to learn the ins-and-outs of your gear, from camera down to tripod.

Antelope CanyonGranted, my experience may not be typical; you do not see many people describing their experience at Antelope Canyon as a blood-sport. But, we were there on a cloudy day during the off season. I cannot even imagine what it would be like touring the canyon during the high season, or even when the sunbeams that so many people want to capture appear.

But for all the PTSD from which you may think that I suffer, I’m still left wondering when I will be able to go back again.

Antelope Canyon (sideways)

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