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Author Topic: Another Antelope Canyon Question  (Read 5034 times)
sierraman
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« on: April 05, 2014, 09:52:34 AM »
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Hoping to go there sometime in May. Looking at one of the "primetime" professional tours mid-day in the upper canyon. I guess my question would be is it worth the extra money to go on one of the professional tours? I know it's going to be crowded either way and I was hoping that this type tour might do some actual crowd control or am I just dreaming. I plan on doing the lower canyon on the morning (9:00 am) tour and (12:00) at the upper canyon. Any help would be appreciated.  Smiley
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bretedge
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« Reply #1 on: April 05, 2014, 05:46:42 PM »
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I'd switch around those tour times.  The lower canyon is so much better than the upper canyon and I'd want to be there when the light is best (mid-day) rather than in the morning.  FWIW, I wouldn't even visit the upper canyon.  It's small and way too crowded.
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sierraman
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« Reply #2 on: April 05, 2014, 06:14:17 PM »
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Thanks Bret!  Smiley
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NashvilleMike
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« Reply #3 on: April 05, 2014, 08:16:30 PM »
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I'm not Bret Edge, don't have a gallery, nobody knows me, and I probably suck as a photographer compared to Bret, but at the same time I will openly question his suggestion (a bit) that Lower Antelope is best at mid day; I've visited probably a dozen times across a few years, both in May and September, and in my mind, having shot every hour down there from when they open at 8-ish until 2 in the afternoon, I'd argue that the best time for lower antelope is actually two time slots in mid-late May: First and foremost, as early as you can get down there and I'm talking get your ass at the gate so you are car number 1 waiting for the staff to open the gate and then get down there ASAP and don't overshoot the first 100 feet of the canyon like most newbies do. Second slot is to wait until about 09:30-10:00 to start and shoot the 2 hour window from then - that's when you'll get the shaft through the eye (light shafts aren't common in lower). While I've gotten serviceable stuff past noon, I'm of the opinion that the light there, in May, is better before then. If there was a 7:00am possibility I'd be up for that, but there is not at least I guess unless you know someone.

However, I absolutely agree with Bret that lower trumps upper. Never in any of my visits have I ran into a photographer who, after doing both, thought upper held a candle to lower. My other tips are to travel light, it gets crazy tight in the middle of the Lower and you don't need to be hauling around your 800mm prime, ya know? Smiley

If you do go to lower, see if Tilman B. is working there that day - he knows the best spots and is an all around great guy to talk to.

-m
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sierraman
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« Reply #4 on: April 05, 2014, 10:50:24 PM »
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I'm not Bret Edge, don't have a gallery, nobody knows me, and I probably suck as a photographer compared to Bret, but at the same time I will openly question his suggestion (a bit) that Lower Antelope is best at mid day; I've visited probably a dozen times across a few years, both in May and September, and in my mind, having shot every hour down there from when they open at 8-ish until 2 in the afternoon, I'd argue that the best time for lower antelope is actually two time slots in mid-late May: First and foremost, as early as you can get down there and I'm talking get your ass at the gate so you are car number 1 waiting for the staff to open the gate and then get down there ASAP and don't overshoot the first 100 feet of the canyon like most newbies do. Second slot is to wait until about 09:30-10:00 to start and shoot the 2 hour window from then - that's when you'll get the shaft through the eye (light shafts aren't common in lower). While I've gotten serviceable stuff past noon, I'm of the opinion that the light there, in May, is better before then. If there was a 7:00am possibility I'd be up for that, but there is not at least I guess unless you know someone.

However, I absolutely agree with Bret that lower trumps upper. Never in any of my visits have I ran into a photographer who, after doing both, thought upper held a candle to lower. My other tips are to travel light, it gets crazy tight in the middle of the Lower and you don't need to be hauling around your 800mm prime, ya know? Smiley

If you do go to lower, see if Tilman B. is working there that day - he knows the best spots and is an all around great guy to talk to.

-m

Thanks for the info. I'll take all the advise I can get. It looks like I will "focus" on the lower canyon during this visit.  Smiley
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bretedge
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« Reply #5 on: April 05, 2014, 11:01:57 PM »
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I guess if you're into light shafts then perhaps Mike's is good advice.  Light shafts don't do anything for me and my advice was offered for those looking for some of the best reflected light in the canyon.  I've never shot a light shaft so I wouldn't have a clue when to find them.  I do know that I'd be less than thrilled to have someone throwing sand in the air for the light to filter through with my expensive camera in the same general vicinity!  Grin

It's no secret that slot canyons receive more dramatic reflected light when the sun is higher in the sky - not lower.  I should have clarified that "mid-day" does not mean 3:00 in the afternoon.  Generally, between 11:00 and 1:00 to 2:00 will provide optimal light in most slot canyons.

And Mike - I've not seen your work but I doubt very seriously that it sucks!

I'm not Bret Edge, don't have a gallery, nobody knows me, and I probably suck as a photographer compared to Bret, but at the same time I will openly question his suggestion (a bit) that Lower Antelope is best at mid day; I've visited probably a dozen times across a few years, both in May and September, and in my mind, having shot every hour down there from when they open at 8-ish until 2 in the afternoon, I'd argue that the best time for lower antelope is actually two time slots in mid-late May: First and foremost, as early as you can get down there and I'm talking get your ass at the gate so you are car number 1 waiting for the staff to open the gate and then get down there ASAP and don't overshoot the first 100 feet of the canyon like most newbies do. Second slot is to wait until about 09:30-10:00 to start and shoot the 2 hour window from then - that's when you'll get the shaft through the eye (light shafts aren't common in lower). While I've gotten serviceable stuff past noon, I'm of the opinion that the light there, in May, is better before then. If there was a 7:00am possibility I'd be up for that, but there is not at least I guess unless you know someone.

However, I absolutely agree with Bret that lower trumps upper. Never in any of my visits have I ran into a photographer who, after doing both, thought upper held a candle to lower. My other tips are to travel light, it gets crazy tight in the middle of the Lower and you don't need to be hauling around your 800mm prime, ya know? Smiley

If you do go to lower, see if Tilman B. is working there that day - he knows the best spots and is an all around great guy to talk to.

-m
« Last Edit: April 05, 2014, 11:04:29 PM by bretedge » Logged

BJL
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« Reply #6 on: April 06, 2014, 09:07:12 AM »
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The "photographers'" tours of Lower Antelope Canyon are typically longer (like two hours vs one) and so allow more time to setup photos, and in my limited experience they also have fewer people in them. So even though I made do without a tripod (IBIS and leaning against walls did the job for me), I appreciated the extra time to work a location, and having more chance that the view was not blocked by dozens of people photographing their friends and throwing sand into light shafts.  However, other groups on the shorter, faster moving tours will be passing through, so it still takes patience and timing to get unobstructed views.

P. S. Like Bret Edge, I had little interest in the light shaft images, and in that case, mid-morning to mid-day is probably fine for light.
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NashvilleMike
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« Reply #7 on: April 06, 2014, 10:34:10 AM »
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Just a clarification: I'm not really into light shafts either. I find the reflected colors more to my liking (and it's all of course subjective) in the first 3 or so hours of the day (8ish - 11ish) in lower antelope. There is some cool stuff going on later with some cooler tones (around 1-ish), but for some reason that slot seems to be a morning slot for me.

-m


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bill proud
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« Reply #8 on: April 06, 2014, 01:38:28 PM »
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Photographing both upper and lower Antelope and getting great light is very much dependent on time of year, and is best from mid March to mid May, especially if you do want the shafts of light. By mid May the sun is directly overhead creating very flat light beyond 11:00 A.M. I've heard that September is good for black and white but I've not been there then.

This is also when the shafts occur, the lower shaft is gone by May 5th or 6th, somewhere in that range, because the sun passes beyond the angle necessary to pass through the hole.

I've not had any luck on lower in the afternoon, mornings are best, as Mike said be there first, and I would suggest starting at the bottom entrance and work up.

I can't remember how many slot images I've sold but do know shafts of light far outweigh abstracts. To each his own.

Best image I've seen was Fatali's, who used a tumbleweed to give an anchor to the abstract sense.

Good luck, upper will be swamped with people in Mid May but you can still get something if you can act quickly.

If you are unsure, use a guide for upper only. The best guides you will find are right here on this forum.
« Last Edit: April 06, 2014, 01:42:34 PM by bill proud » Logged

Schewe
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« Reply #9 on: April 06, 2014, 09:19:07 PM »
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I would defiantly suggest the "photo tour" for either upper or lower. You pay a bit more but get much more time–which you will need. I've shot both and if you have time, would suggest going to both upper and lower. Two really different experiences...upper has much larger slots while lower is more confined. Upper is also really flat (good for tripods if you can camp out in a space that doesn't block traffic too much) while lower is much more uneven. I've been to upper more often–once last year with Alain Briot's tour where we had a really excellent guide that would indeed block off traffic for shots. And if you get a good guide, be sure to tip well...
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sierraman
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« Reply #10 on: April 07, 2014, 08:55:32 AM »
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Thanks again to everyone for the helpful tips. I think I now
have a good idea what to expect.  Smiley
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koolk2
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« Reply #11 on: April 14, 2014, 09:14:36 AM »
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I just returned from a workshop in Page. I was fortunate to visit Lower Antelope twice and Upper once. Both trips to Lower where in the 11-1 time frame. Most of the crowds zipped by me quickly. The reflected light was good and I captured quite a few abstracts. Upper was a different story. There were large crowds vying for choice spots. We were very fortunate to have a former GM of the largest tour company as our tour guide. He is a young Navajo photographer named Mylo Fowler. The other tour guides were so happy to see him they went out of their way to keep the crowds away so we got our shots. Please note that the photographers tour of Lower Antelope is now $50.00 for 2 hours.

Ken
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sierraman
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« Reply #12 on: April 14, 2014, 08:54:27 PM »
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I just returned from a workshop in Page. I was fortunate to visit Lower Antelope twice and Upper once. Both trips to Lower where in the 11-1 time frame. Most of the crowds zipped by me quickly. The reflected light was good and I captured quite a few abstracts. Upper was a different story. There were large crowds vying for choice spots. We were very fortunate to have a former GM of the largest tour company as our tour guide. He is a young Navajo photographer named Mylo Fowler. The other tour guides were so happy to see him they went out of their way to keep the crowds away so we got our shots. Please note that the photographers tour of Lower Antelope is now $50.00 for 2 hours.

Ken
Thanks. Good to know.  Smiley
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sierraman
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« Reply #13 on: May 12, 2014, 10:19:11 PM »
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Thanks to all for your advise. I was planing on hitting Lower Antelope on Mothers Day but the weather forecast for Page on Sunday was for cold,wind, and rain and the forecast was correct. I arrived Saturday afternoon and decided while some sunshine was hitting the canyon I would go ahead and head to the canyon while the light was still good. There was only a maybe 10-15 cars in the parking area so as soon as I paid my fees I was off. I'm not the worlds best photographer but I feel I got a couple of good images to show family and friends. The crowds were light and the photo tours passed by quickly. I think going back a second time might improve my chances at better images.
« Last Edit: May 12, 2014, 10:20:42 PM by sierraman » Logged
Schewe
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« Reply #14 on: May 12, 2014, 11:21:18 PM »
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I think going back a second time might improve my chances at better images.

Yep, for sure...the first time you shoot a slot canyon, you really have no clue what you'll be facing. Your shot looks good (if a bit "safe") So if you go again you can dwell more on seeing the angles and the light. Upper & Lower are both difficult places to shoot...but the lower "photo tour" which basically give you a 2 hr window to return by provides the best chance of finding cool views given the prevailing conditions...cudos to posting your shot. (and when I wrote "safe", I meant no disrespect...it's just that I've seen a lot of shots similar–but that shouldn't diminish the shot you came back with–hey, you went there and shot the shot!)
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gordorad
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« Reply #15 on: May 13, 2014, 06:23:37 AM »
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Jumping in late, but wanted clarification on "start at the bottom and work you way up?".  This is pertaining to Lower.  I am planning on being at the gate early....7:00AM and will be doing the photo pass....

Also, don't overshoot the first 100 feet.  Is it better to bypass that? 

Thanks.
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Schewe
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« Reply #16 on: May 13, 2014, 10:07:24 PM »
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I didn't get to the "bottom" and work my way back up...I was there about 12:30pm (in Nov) and I couldn't NOT shoot as I went in...by the time I reached about 2/3 of the way down, I looked at my watch and realized I needed to turn back up the canyon. I ended up being "just on time" getting out. Course, I'm not in great condition and I was huffing & puffing while shooting. I also took a smaller camera (not my Phase One) so it was quicker to shoot...

Starting at 7AM is a different proposition...your best light will be later so your thought to go down quickly and work your way back up may be a good strategy. I really can't say...maybe some of the more veteran lower canyon shooters can add to this?
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bill proud
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« Reply #17 on: May 14, 2014, 12:35:28 PM »
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gordorad,

I suggested starting at the bottom and working up and this is for Lower Antelope. The reason I suggested this is because the bottom entrance descends a ladder and is the deepest part of the lower canyon. This depth creates more variations in color as the sun bounces its way into the slot.

They use to open at 8:00, not sure if they have changed.

Starting at the top will bring you to the Corkscrew almost immediately. There is a ledge above the path that gives a better angle to shoot it and gets you out of the way of traffic. You can't miss it.

good luck,

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gordorad
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« Reply #18 on: May 14, 2014, 01:18:59 PM »
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As much as I've read, I don't recall any info on how long the actual lower canyon is?  Or, if one was to walk non stop, how long would it take to complete the canyon?   I'm sure 2 hours will give me ample photo ops....Do I need to rush?  Will every turn present another "o wow" look at this angle moment?



Yes, I'm going to be there at 7:00am, knowing they do not open until 8:00am, but want to be very early. 
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sierraman
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« Reply #19 on: May 14, 2014, 04:35:38 PM »
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As much as I've read, I don't recall any info on how long the actual lower canyon is?  Or, if one was to walk non stop, how long would it take to complete the canyon?   I'm sure 2 hours will give me ample photo ops....Do I need to rush?  Will every turn present another "o wow" look at this angle moment?



Yes, I'm going to be there at 7:00am, knowing they do not open until 8:00am, but want to be very early. 
I started at the lower end of the canyon and worked my way up. It took me just over an hour to reach the other end so I headed back down the canyon and finished where I started. I think since this was my first time I was in a hurry to get to the other end. Next time I will start at the lower end and take my time going up. I was in the canyon for the full 2 hours but could have used another hour as you have to account for the time to let the tours go by.  Smiley
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