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Antelope Canyon 2023 - Reality Check

  
 
Tim Carpenter
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Antelope Canyon 2023 - Reality Check


My wife and I traveling to Sedona and plan to spend a day and half in Page doing some hiking. While there, we want to take in Antelope Canyon. Sounds like it is a pretty crowded experience and could be a real challenge doing any photography. Not sure if anyone on the Forum has been there in the past couple of years. A few questions:

- Is it realistic to bring a good DSLR and try shooting mostly photos up (to avoid getting people in the photographs)....OR, should I leave the good camera behind and expect to use my phone. I essentially don't want to set myself up for being utterly frustrated
- we are currently scheduled for the upper canyon at Noon on the day we chose. Is the lower any less crowded/better? X Canyon any good for photography?
- If the answer is...yes, take your camera. I have two options 5DsR (high res but can't really push the ISO past 2,000) or my Canon 6D...I think the latter for higher ISO and less noise?
- 24-105 Lens wide enough?
- Aperature...should I be shooting at F8 or 11 for decent depth of field? I could bring a 24-70 2.8...but not sure if I'll be able to get good focus through the image at 2.8...not sure how far we actually will be from what I'm taking pictures of.

I get the idea that the whole tour goes pretty fast. I want to avoid spending too much time tinkering with camera setting vs enjoying the experience and getting some nice shots.

Appreciate any insight y'all can provide.



Dec 09, 2022 at 12:09 PM
xterra07
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Antelope Canyon 2023 - Reality Check


It was a zoo 12 years ago, only got worse probably.
16-35 and wider is my choice
It will be so dark you need f/4 and faster
You donít get sunbeams past Oct or Nov
I was there in May-Sept

2010-08-15 - 1/13s f/4 - ISO-800 - 31mm (x1.3=40.3mm)






2010-08-13 - 2.5s f/11 - ISO-200 - 17mm






2010-09-02 - 0.4s f/11 - ISO-200 - 17mm (x1.3=22.1mm)






Go and see, that's all you can do.
Upper Antelope Canyon, Lower Antelope Canyon

Take Photo tour which is better than not, costs more, maybe double. Talk to people with cameras who finish it before you take one?



Dec 09, 2022 at 08:27 PM
xterra07
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Antelope Canyon 2023 - Reality Check


Lower Antelope is very different, the photo tour used to be individual where you are left alone.
Upper was always frustrating and quick, itís a short walk and only 3-5 spots, single pass, take photos but it will be rushed and frustrating.



Dec 09, 2022 at 09:13 PM
Dustin Gent
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Antelope Canyon 2023 - Reality Check


wide is better. Ive been several times. First time had a 16mm, and the last time i was there i had 14mm Most of it is a tight fit (not so much claustrophobic - just cramped).

Remember they are on DST, whereas Arizona doesn't acknowledge daylight savings. The Navajo do.



Dec 09, 2022 at 11:47 PM
wlpelzmann
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Antelope Canyon 2023 - Reality Check


Tim, I hope you report back and let us know if you thought the experience was worth your time and cost. I took a friend, visiting from Austria 3 years ago, through Lower Antelope. The crowds were herded through. The operators have totally destroyed the experience. I loved the old days when you could buy a photo pass and spend the entire day in the canyon on your own. I never plan to return.


Dec 10, 2022 at 05:55 AM
AZHeaven
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · Antelope Canyon 2023 - Reality Check


Tim Carpenter wrote:
My wife and I traveling to Sedona and plan to spend a day and half in Page doing some hiking. While there, we want to take in Antelope Canyon. Sounds like it is a pretty crowded experience and could be a real challenge doing any photography. Not sure if anyone on the Forum has been there in the past couple of years. A few questions:

- Is it realistic to bring a good DSLR and try shooting mostly photos up (to avoid getting people in the photographs)....OR, should I leave the good camera behind and expect to use my phone.
...Show more

Upper Antelope will be crowded. Lower will not be. I was only at Upper Antelope in 2007. It was crowded then and most likely even more so. If you do Upper. And not many know this. Stop and pause in the entrance. It's a show of respect to the Native elders and culture. I did that when we went and the guide saw what we did and stayed with us the entire tour into the canyon.

There are several slot canyons in the Lake Powell area you can check out online to see if they may be worth your time.

Sedona to Page is about a 3 hour drive. 2 from Flagstaff. I'm allowing an hour to get out of Sedona if you are going up Oak Creek Canyon. I'm guessing you will be seeing the sights in Sedona as well? If so and you need guidance let me know. I'll try to help as much as I can.

Also of interest is a little known canyon on the Navajo/Hopi Reservation. Coal Mine Canyon. You also on the way up have Sunset Crater Volcano and Tuzigoot Indian Ruins. That road from Hwy 89 outside of Flagstaff loops around and back to 89 on the north end. Enjoy a Navajo Taco at the Cameron Trading Post!

As for gear? You will want a wide angle lens wider than 24. As others have said 14-16 to 24 or 35. Or a fast prime that's around 14-16mm.



Dec 10, 2022 at 09:50 AM
gdanmitchell
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · Antelope Canyon 2023 - Reality Check


I think you probably meant to post this in this forum: https://www.fredmiranda.com/forum/board/51


Dec 10, 2022 at 10:32 AM
GroovyGeek
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · Antelope Canyon 2023 - Reality Check


Whether it is a zoo or not depends to some extent on the time of year - which you do not specify. Last time I was there was mid Dec'21. Was driving by on the way back from Moab and decided to see how busy it is. Stopped at the lower canyon parking spot, the next tour leaving in 15 minutes was half empty. Lower is not great in the winter, but it is still impressive.

Previously visited Upper canyon during thanksgiving week '18 with my wife and daughter. Waited 3 hours just to get in, and then it was literally back to back to back throughout the canyon. Bottom line - if you go mid week during low season you will be OK. If you try Lower canyon at noon during July or August you will almost certainly encounter a zoo.

I avoid "icons" at almost all costs, but after visiting many of the less popular slot canyons I can say that TINA (there is no alternative). If you have never been in a slot canyon the other ones are impressive, but if you go there after Antelope you feel like going to Niagara after seeing Iguazu

24mm is going to be OK. Some of the more unique shots will not be accessible but it is not like they give you time to linger and explore these days. f/4 may be somewhat limiting for a few shots but if you have a modern camera you can just crank up the ISO to 3200 or 6400 and will be OK with some denoising.



Dec 11, 2022 at 02:39 PM
Greg Campbell
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · Antelope Canyon 2023 - Reality Check


If you have the time and $, one of the 'alternate' Page-area canyons is worth considering. I know of Canyon X and Cardiac Canyon. Tours to either are several hours long and much less crowded. Pretty sure tripods are cool as well. I think Cardiac lives up to its name by requiring a moderate hike.

IMO, 24 on a FF isn't quite enough. OTOH, a super wide, 14 or so, may be difficult to frame without getting a chunk of 100% blown-out sky at the top of the frame. Clear blue skies with direct sun give the best canyon color, and the blue sky may may not necessarily be washed out. Wider POV allows longer exposures. I think you'll be 'ok' hand holding in Antelope, but DOV restrictions may limit your compositions.

Lower is physically much longer, and thus (usually) less crowded. It's fractionally less photogenic but is still amazing. I do miss the days when they would turn you loose for 4 hours for twenty bucks...

Look up Cathedral Wash, located not far away in Lee's Ferry. It's vastly different, being far more rugged, both visually and ergonomically, than Antelope. 100% free, with no crowds and no time limit.
I like it a lot!




Dec 11, 2022 at 08:16 PM
AZHeaven
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · Antelope Canyon 2023 - Reality Check


I forgot to mention Waterhole Canyon is another slot canyon just south of Horseshoe Bend. One used to be able to go there without a guide. But they finally saw how popular it was and a guide is now needed.

If you decide to do Horseshoe Bend be careful. Last I was there no traffic light to get out and heavy traffic.



Dec 12, 2022 at 08:22 AM
 


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mdude85
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · Antelope Canyon 2023 - Reality Check


I don't have experience with the crowds as I last went to lower Antelope in 2015. As for your shooting parameters, I would probably go wider instead of longer. If I recall, I used a 17-40L for most of my shots (on a 6D).

I remember a good amount of light in the canyon. f4 should be good, I don't think you'll need to stop down to f11. I don't think tripods are allowed anymore, so you might need to push the ISO a bit, but 1600 should be satisfactory.



https://scottmedway.exposure.co/antelope-canyon



Dec 12, 2022 at 11:08 AM
Craig Gillette
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · Antelope Canyon 2023 - Reality Check


My only experience is Lower Antelope several years ago. I used a 12-24/4 lens on a D7200, so 18-36 in ff terms. Neither is a good place to be changing lenses.

We'd had some rain not too long before but aside from a few avoidable mud areas, one with a rather deep foot print (somebody looking up?), the passage was not a problem. It can be tight and there were several "laddered" (More like fairly step steel metal stairs) areas. Upper is flat?

I would check the tour terms to be sure and current on what might be available in the way of time and gear allowances. Tourism has increased rapidly and demand outstrips the available space, etc. So not sure how much time you'll have or how crowded. The busier more crowded times, they have to move through seemingly more quickly. Our tour wasn't so full that time wasn't available in some of the better spots.

Looking up can avoid other people, keep in mind that it's quite a bit darker at the bottom of a slot than the direct sky shot out the top.




Dec 12, 2022 at 01:56 PM
dalite
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · Antelope Canyon 2023 - Reality Check


Tim you did not mention the day and month of your planned visit to Antelope Canyon. There's a huge difference as the lighting will not be the same. Lots of good advice given. Years ago I visited the Upper Canyon tour. The lower canyon tour as I recall then needed ladder access in some areas and for older people like myself that poses much difficulty. No tripods allowed. Even years ago, the guides rushed photographers through the slot canyons. Be sure you have your best DSLR with a wide angle lens (<22mm). Expect some hassle but it will be a nice experience.

Nearby, visit Horseshoe Bend. Crowds, crowds.



Dec 12, 2022 at 09:00 PM
AZHeaven
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p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · Antelope Canyon 2023 - Reality Check


dalite wrote:
Tim you did not mention the day and month of your planned visit to Antelope Canyon. There's a huge difference as the lighting will not be the same. Lots of good advice given. Years ago I visited the Upper Canyon tour. The lower canyon tour as I recall then needed ladder access in some areas and for older people like myself that poses much difficulty. No tripods allowed. Even years ago, the guides rushed photographers through the slot canyons. Be sure you have your best DSLR with a wide angle lens (<22mm). Expect some hassle but it will be a
...Show more

I was a cover/swing driver for FedEx, now retired. We would go to Flagstaff to help out. They put us on the Page/Lake Powell run to take the freight to the Page driver. I remember when Horseshoe Bend was a simple dirt lot and with luck you found a parking spot. Now? It's like Disney. Huge paved lot with entrance booths to pay to get in! And still no, and a much needed traffic light there!



Dec 13, 2022 at 09:23 AM
gdanmitchell
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p.1 #15 · p.1 #15 · Antelope Canyon 2023 - Reality Check


The "Antelope Canyon Reality Check" should remind us of one of the increasing problems in the Southwest, namely too many people heading to some of the most popular places. This may affect how we treat the place in several ways.

If you are going to these places, plan to try to avoid those times if you can ó on the larger seasonal level, and on the micro-level (which day of the week and what time of the day).

Consider going to some of the non-iconic locations, which are often just as rewarding (and occasionally more so!) than the well-known "icons." There are beautiful sites all over the Southwest, and a bit of exploring will take you to some wonderful surprises.

I encourage people to be a bit circumspect about recommending specific locations too publicly. We can and do worsen the problem when we repeat the advice to head the the already-popular places, and we also worsen it when we start recommending to publicly some of the places that have remained a bit more under the radar. It may be a good strategy to recommend general areas rather than specific put-your-tripod-here spots.

There's another reason to not be too specific, and it relates to the experience that people will have when they go. Those of us who spend a fair amount of time in such places eventually tend to discover that the thrill of the icons is not as deep and lasting as the thrill of personal exploration that leads to "discovering" our own places. Having too much information and recommendations that are too specific can cripple that potential.


Edited on Dec 15, 2022 at 01:15 PM · View previous versions



Dec 13, 2022 at 10:00 AM
dalite
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p.1 #16 · p.1 #16 · Antelope Canyon 2023 - Reality Check


AZHeaven wrote:
I was a cover/swing driver for FedEx, now retired. We would go to Flagstaff to help out. They put us on the Page/Lake Powell run to take the freight to the Page driver. I remember when Horseshoe Bend was a simple dirt lot and with luck you found a parking spot. Now? It's like Disney. Huge paved lot with entrance booths to pay to get in! And still no, and a much needed traffic light there!

__________

Wow it really has changed. When I visited the place there was a dirt parking lot.




Dec 15, 2022 at 12:26 AM
Tim Carpenter
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p.1 #17 · p.1 #17 · Antelope Canyon 2023 - Reality Check


Leaving in about 2 weeks for our trip and I need to get a wide angle lens rental ordered. I'm getting the impression I want to be shooting F4-8 for DOF? True? or..will I need to shoot wide open? Seems like not. Any recommendations on which Canon mount lens to look for? is 16 wide enough?


Feb 07, 2023 at 11:13 PM
Craig Gillette
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p.1 #18 · p.1 #18 · Antelope Canyon 2023 - Reality Check


It's been several years since I toured Lower Antelope. At the time they still had the Photographer Tours. We took the faster, regular tour and there was still time for some slower more deliberate shooting but no tripods. We stopped several good spots for discussions, the guide did couples/family shots with your camera if desired, etc. They do keep you moving but space the groups, too. with the narrow chambers, the group is one at a time fairly often so if I hung back at the end, there was time while those ahead of funneled through.

I used a 12-24/4 aps-c zoom, so 18mm ff on the wide end and I recall that was fine. Might depend on your gear what wide you have that works best. It's not a place for lens changing. Even if they aren't tossing sand for light beams, which may be seasonal and Upper Canyon?, it still blows in and sifts down from above. Looking at some I had on PBase, looks like I used 1/60 f6.3, F7.1 for the most part and in the iso 5000 to 6400 range.

this is one with people in it to give some reference as to conditions, space, etc.




Feb 08, 2023 at 02:02 AM
AZHeaven
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p.1 #19 · p.1 #19 · Antelope Canyon 2023 - Reality Check


Craig Gillette wrote:

It's been several years since I toured Lower Antelope. At the time they still had the Photographer Tours. We took the faster, regular tour and there was still time for some slower more deliberate shooting but no tripods. We stopped several good spots for discussions, the guide did couples/family shots with your camera if desired, etc. They do keep you moving but space the groups, too. with the narrow chambers, the group is one at a time fairly often so if I hung back at the end, there was time while those ahead of funneled through.

I used a 12-24/4
...Show more

To add what Craig is saying. April is very windy here in AZ. Actually the winds start in March and don't end until June. So the sand will no doubt sift down the slot canyon for sure. And like Craig said, you don't want to be changing lenses. And getting a clear shot with no people in it will be a challenge.

Edited on Feb 09, 2023 at 08:27 AM · View previous versions



Feb 08, 2023 at 08:19 AM
mdude85
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p.1 #20 · p.1 #20 · Antelope Canyon 2023 - Reality Check


gdanmitchell wrote:
I encourage people to be a bit circumspect about recommending specific locations too publicly. We can and do worsen the problem when we repeat the advice to head the the already-popular places, and we also worsen it when we start recommending to publicly some of the places that have remained a bit more under the radar. It may be a good strategy to recommend general areas rather than specific put-your-tripod-here spots.



Very few of us "discover" places on our own... usually we get advice from others (either directly or by guidebooks and websites), who have been gracious enough to share their knowledge. It seems a bit selfish to then pull the ladder up behind us, depriving others of the opportunities we were given.

And as a counterpoint, spreading people out to more under-the-radar spots might alleviate some of the overcrowding on the existing major sites. Luckily, these places do not become any less beautiful when more people who see them. Congestion, noise and pollution are problems, but they do not exist outside of us. We are congestion, noise and pollution.



Feb 08, 2023 at 02:07 PM
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