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Photographing The Famous Antelope Canyon

No one should leave northern Arizona without experiencing Antelope Canyon. Antelope Canyon is a slot canyon on Navajo land east of Page, Arizona.

The canyon is actually divided into Upper Antelope Canyon and Lower Antelope Canyon. Each one has to be visited separately. This natural feature is very popular amongst photographers and tourists.

Hard to believe there is a beautiful slot canyon inside this crack.

Live Small | Ride Free
Live Small | Ride Free

Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon can only be visited with a tour guide. For those who hesitate to participate with a commercial tour company, fear not, it’s actually worth joining to experience these two canyons.

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It’s $40/person plus a mandatory $8/person Navajo permit fee to walk through Upper Antelope Canyon. Lower Antelope Canyon is $20/person plus the permit fee. Warning to photographers: none of the tour companies allow tripods or monopods on the regular tours. But the companies all offer a Photographer Tour and photographers are able to bring tripods and monopods. It is longer and more expensive than the regular tour.

Bracing against the canyon walls to capture shots.

Live Small | Ride Free
Live Small | Ride Free

I was conflicted about which one to go to photograph when I went to visit the slot canyons. Upper Antelope Canyon is more popular amongst photographers. But I ended up choosing Lower Antelope Canyon because of these reasons:

  • Lower Cost
  • Lower Antelope Canyon is longer than Upper
  • More natural light comes into this canyon, which is important if you can’t use a tripod/monopod
  • Not as popular so it’s not as crowded

There are two tour companies to choose from for Lower Antelope Canyon: Ken’s Tours and Dixie Ellis’ Lower Antelope Canyon Tours. From their websites, everything they offer is identical to one another. They are both located at the slot canyon trailhead right next to one another.

The Lower Antelope Canyon tours include walking up and down steep staircases.

Live Small | Ride Free
Live Small | Ride Free

I chose Ken’s Guided Tour. Their tours last for 1 hour and 15 minutes and there is a tour offered every 20 minutes between 8:30 AM – 4:30 PM (summer hours). There are three groups of 15 people that leave at the same time. Each group is far enough behind the other so it never feels overly crowded in the canyon. It also helps that the slot canyon is extremely tight and twisty so you can really only see the people in your group.

Flash floods have eroded the Navajo Sandstone over time to form these two slot canyons.

Live Small | Ride Free
Live Small | Ride Free

Here are photography tips for Lower Antelope Canyon:

  • Lower Antelope Canyon is tall and narrow so you’ll want high noon sunlight to brighten the walls, especially if you go on the regular tour
  • Colors and shadows change depending on what time you visit the canyon
  • Set your ISO high, around 1000 – 2500 because it’s dark in the slot canyon
  • Your shutter speed will have to be very slow, around 1/30 seconds. This is not great for handheld photos. Your photos will not be as sharp as they would be at a faster shutter speed
  • Find things to brace yourself against to try and steady your camera. I used the canyon walls and at times my boyfriend
  • Remember to clear out your memory card beforehand and bring a spare one
  • Make sure your camera battery is fully charged and perhaps bring a backup battery
  • Bring a lens cleaner. It gets dusty from the traffic
  • Bring a plastic bag to put your camera in in case it gets too dusty. You’ll want to make a hole for your lens to poke out of so you can still shoot photographs
  • Hang out in the middle or back of your tour group so you can take your time photographing. Better yet, hang out by a family with small kids because they are usually slower.

Happy shooting!



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