Monday, March 2, 2009

A Secret World

I was debating where to go this week (subject-wise) and finally decided that the canyon thing might be interesting to pursue further.  I usually prefer to discuss art rather than travel related stuff, but several people commented on my last post that they were unfamiliar with the subject of slot canyons and several others indicated their plans to seek out some themselves this year.  In light of that, I have to mention Antelope Canyon in Arizona, right near the border with Utah and at the base of Lake Powell, near the Glen Canyon dam.
Many serious nature photographers from all over the world know about this place and let me tell you, a whole lot of them make the pilgrimage to get here every year. It's the Mecca of slot canyons and unfortunately gets quite crowded most days.  It lies on Navajo Indian land, so you need to hire one of the several guide services that share rights to bring people in here. They will transport you from the little nearby town of Page, right up to the opening that you see here in the middle pic, then take you on through for a certain amount of time, depending on the tour you purchase. If you want to do any serious photography, you'll need to pay a little more for the 2 1/2 hour photo session that most of the guides offer. That will give you, besides enough time to work, a referee of sorts for your limited size group, and they will at least try to keep the other groups separated and out of your way in each of several good spots. The guide for my group even played an indian flute for us while inside to enhance the mood. Even so, you will need to be patient and a bit aggressive to get the good angles. Fortunately, the exposures in here are quite long, so even if someone walks through your shot while your shutter is open, (and they will) they'll show up little if at all. Sometimes the "ghost" effect is even kind of cool. Some of the more casual tourists are not too concerned about kicking up dust as they shuffle about, either. 
I believe they used to let people in here by themselves after paying a fee, but it got too crowded to manage that way and also there is the danger of flash flooding. Rain so far away that you don't even know it's falling can rush through here suddenly and it's all over if you happen to be inside, so they are careful about watching the weather.  In 1997, eleven tourists from France, Sweden and the U.K. were caught in the lower Antelope Canyon and drowned. One somehow managed to survive.
The upper, vertical shot is taken from outside, right at the entrance and you can see some people with their point and shoot cameras.. once again,  good for scale reference, although it gets much larger inside. Some spots are comfortably wide, others are very narrow, so hopefully you don't have claustrophobia! The larger, third image is actually far from one of my best from this shoot, but I think it is reasonably good at expressing what it's like inside this mysterious place. If you're lucky, you'll catch a sunbeam shining down from above onto the floor! 

28 comments:

earthtoholly.com said...

Wow...what a beautiful place!

The walls remind me of huge pieces of milk chocolate that have broken off from one another...it almost looks like another world. A beautiful capture!

betchai said...

Oh, I thank you so much for featuring this. The first time I saw Antelope Canyon in pictures, I wanted to go here, did not know it can be expensive :( And your third picture, I am so amazed, I am speechless and I feel like crying. It looks like no one is in there despite the crowds you have mentioned. It really is jaw dropping.

wayne d said...

A brilliant series Mark......exemplary photography.

donnie said...

the bottom pic in particular is sublime

Patrick said...

Mark, the last one really has something magical, this light is perfect with these shapes.

storybeader said...

yes, that third shot is amazing! Quite "other-worldly." Great shadows and color! Have you put together calendars? I think they would sell well!

Esther said...

Beautiful photos, particularly the last one. I love the texture and the lighting. Nice capture.

Dr. Lauren said...

A great example of Gneissac texture. What an amazing photo.

roentarre said...

I have seen this location through images by many photographers. This one is a winner in deed. The texture and the look of the rock facade is incredibly smooth and mellowy.

Great lighting control there for sure.

This is a place I would love to visit myself :)

lilaphase said...

Wow! I just found your site - these photos are amazing and beautiful.

tstreasures said...

I have to say that I LOVE nature photos like the last one. Absolutely stunning!! Your work is beautiful.

Amy Lilley Designs said...

What an amazing place you have found...I guess the bottom piece speaks volumes and volumes...again, very 'other wordly'...almost un-real in it's perfection...beyond words!!!

Teresa Mode said...

I love your pictures. I would love to go and see them myself one of these day. Thank you for posting them.

Dario said...

man! that place is fantastic! colors are gorgeus!

3dlandscapes

Mark Alan Meader said...

Betchai: It's not so expensive for what you get, but yes, you do have to pay. I think it was about $50/person. I can give you the name of the guide I used if you want.

Deb: I'll do some calenders one of these years, just need to do it early before all the holiday stuff starts and I run out of time.

Amy: Can't take credit for "finding" this particular place; it may look quiet, but it is unfortunately way too well known.

Lauren: Had to look up that type of rock, but now I know! Thanks.

James, Patrick, Wayne and everybody else, thanks a lot for your input and support.

Lynda Lehmann said...

The lighting in your third photo is exquisite, as is the perspective/progression through the stone columns. So I don't see how your other shots might be better!

I enjoyed this post so much, and have made a note to try to get there, even wrote it on my calendar, lol...

I've always wanted to go to Lake Powell because of its idiosyncratic landforms, which I've heard about a number of times.
Glad to have this info about the tour, as I usually go unprepared.
:(

Such places are so awe-inspiring that words pale. Thanks for sharing this!

Kirsten said...

Your photo's are amazing. Great job, you really talented.

Mark Alan Meader said...

Welcome, Kirsten.. and thank you!

Lynda: Thanks and yes, I know you would enjoy the colors and textures in this area. I have not explored Lake Powell myself, you need a boat to do that, but from what I can see driving by, it is really something. I do have other work from inside the canyon that I consider to be better.. I hadn't even processed this one until I wrote this post. I'll have more in the future!

Lynda Lehmann said...

I look forward to seeing them!

Mook said...

Astounding shots again Mark!

Funnily before I read I was going to mention Antelope Canyon. I have it in my head that the light in there can change giving off "naturally occurring" colours off blues and purples?

Could just be something I have picked up wrong somewhere along the line :)

Mark Alan Meader said...

Thanks, Mook; you didn't have it wrong. Depending on where you are inside and the time of day, you will definitely pick up all kinds of fantastic colors as the light bounces and bends around the shapes of the rock.

Robin Easton said...

I was here at your site earlier this morning and made up my mind to come back this afternoon and explore I see a lot people here who visit my blog, many good people and friends. The last photo in this post took my breath away. It reminds me a bit of Tent Rocks, New Mexico, a short drive from where I live. Only Tent Rocks is noet guided, is probably smaller and the rock is white. But I love its slot canyon as well, and the view from the top it 360 degrees of magnificence. I love these places. You photos are stellar and crisp. I am really going to enjoy this blog of yours. I'm just now watching the mini slideshow on your sidebar. Sooooo beautiful. I am glad we have connected. This is going to be fun for me! Thanks, Robin :)

Mark Alan Meader said...

Robin: Hi there! Thanks for visiting and glad that you enjoy.. I really appreciate your comments.
New Mexico has some places that are definitely on my list, so I'm always happy to get new tips of good places to go. Hope you come back often!

Gregorio said...

I am almost speechless this is incredible.I just have to visit the southwest.So spiritual and magnificent.Fantastic photo awesomely inspiring.

Mark Alan Meader said...

Hey Gregorio: Good to hear from you! I have to give Mother Nature some credit here.. I just try to record what I see, but thanks. Hope you can see the area for yourself one day; you won't regret it.

dday said...

great shot on the third picture. I wish I could go there it looks like a magical place with mysteries to experience. i love watching it, i couldn't stand staring at it it looks so calm and quiet and it's just beautiful.

Mark Alan Meader said...

Thanks for stopping by, DDay.. please come back anytime!

Marius Morar said...

The last photo is amazing. A place of magic.