Today was super amazing. I can’t even begin to describe the beauty I saw today, but the pictures will tell you. John and I went on a photo tour into three slot canyons. There were seven of us in our group plus our guide. We had two of the canyons to ourselves and spent over an hour in each one. The canyons are located just outside of Page, Arizona and on Navajo Indian land. The Navajo control who goes in the canyons. The tour company we went through is the only one that is allowed in Owl Canyon and Rattlesnake Canyon. There are other tour companies, but they can only go in Antelope Canyon. More on that later.
Owl Canyon was named for the Horned Owls that nest in there. We were lucky enough to see them. I wished I had brought my bigger lens with me, but my 18-200 mm did a fairly good job. We entered the canyon by climbing down a ladder, even though the canyons are not underground. We didn’t have to do any other climbing in this canyon. Owl Canyon was different from the other canyons, as it was wider and more open at the top allowing more light in it. The other two canyons were very narrow and deep.
Rattlesnake Canyon was next. I asked Kim, our guide, about the name of the canyon, if I really needed to be careful where I walked. She laughed, no, it was named that because of all the twists and turns. There was more climbing in this canyon and tight squeezes as well. And it was oh so beautiful! More so than Owl Canyon. It was so much more striated, curvy and twisty. I was amazed at each room I entered. This canyon was more inclosed at the top also, so you didn’t have a lot of bright light to deal with. A tri-pod was a must. We were working with time exposure shots that really brought out the detail and colors. I do not have much experience with that, and Kim was very helpful to me. And of course, having done this so many times, she knew just where to point the lens for the best shots. She said this was her favorite slot canyon. I understood why, I could have stayed in there all day.
One last slot canyon to go, Antelope Canyon. We were excited to go there because this is the canyon where you get the beams of light. The light beam only happens certain months of the year, usually to the end of September. The beam is not as big as earlier in the summer, and there may not be one at all this time of year. When we arrived, there were so many tour vehicles there, which meant lots of people, well over a hundred. We joined up with another group from the same tour company. Their guide was Josh, and he knows everything about cameras that there is to know. He would be helping everyone to get the best shots. Not only that, he would be doing crowd control.
Josh led us in, told us exactly where to stand and what to shoot at. He made sure our camera settings were correct and he kept the sand off our lens with his dust blower. All the other groups were pretty unorganized, just shooting away on automatic settings, with no direction from their guides, except to move on to another room. I’m glad I did my research before choosing a tour company. We were going to have artistic shots that would be worthy of framing.
The beam of light did not appear when it was supposed to. I didn’t feel too disappointed, just lucky to have seen everything I had seen and knowing that I had some beautiful photos. Then there it was, a skinny stream of light. Guess what, everyone else had to stay back, while our group had the privilege of photographing it. The beams only lasted for a few minutes and when it started to fade, Josh took us to the other side of it. Kim, our guide, stayed to keep everyone else out. You could still see the beam from that angle, although very faintly. Josh had a shovel and started throwing sand on it. It was amazing what the sand did to the beam. Josh called them money shots, and he was right, they are worthy to be bought. Not only that, but in another room, he threw sand on one of the ledges and it flowed off like a waterfall. It made for some beautiful shots as well, and once again, nobody else was allowed in the room with us.
What an experience! This is high on my list of being one of the best things I have ever done and certainly the high light of this trip. I’m wondering if the Albuquerque Balloon Festival can top this. We will see.