10 tips on shooting in Antelope Canyon

Those who follow this blog know it’s all about aviation. But next to shooting planes I also try to capture other things. You can find some of my non aviation work on a dedicated page: https://apron6.com/non-aviation-photography/ Usually I don’t post non aviation on the blog itself, but for once I’ll make an exception and write a little something about one of the locations I’ve been to recently.

Antelope Canyon is a popular spot among landscape photographers and has only become more popular since many ‘famous’ Instagram photographers started posting photos from this location. Many tourists visiting the South West have a stop in Page to visit this canyon as well as Horseshoe Bend, another famous location. But before visiting Antelope you might consider some important things.

1. You can’t just walk in.

For those who think they’ll just wander of into the canyon and be there for as long as they want: you can’t… Since flash flooding can be very dangerous and some people carved their names in the rocks, a guide is now mandatory. You have to pay an entrance fee at the Navajo tribe who controls these lands and they will guide you through the canyons. So be sure to have a credit card or cash with you. Price for a normal tour is around 48 dollars p.p.

2. Take a small camera bag with you.

Your guide will take you from the entrance all the way up to the canyon. This is done in an open jeep and takes around 10-15 minutes. Make sure your camera is protected during this ride. You will be sand blast! It got everywhere and even made my clothes change colour. My camera was unprotected and even though in the short run it didn’t do any damage, all the sand can’t be good in the long run.

Please be aware that it must be a small bag. Camera bags are not allowed on the normal tours.


3. Don’t forget to shoot with your phone.

Getting good shots with your DSLR on a normal tour can be tricky. As you’ll read in point 4, the guide goes quite fast. It’s pretty dark in the canyon and as you’re not allowed to take a tripod on the normal tours, you will have to work with high iso’s and long shutter speeds. This can be annoying and make you miss some good shots. The tour guide will suggest you’ll shoot with your iPhone. On my tour he even showed how to set up your iPhone camera to get the best colours. During the entire tour he showed the best spots to stand and how  to take good iPhone shot’s from specific points. This way you can shoot stress free and enjoy the tour.

4. Be fast.

The tours go quite fast. You get the time to enjoy the view and shoot a couple of iPhone shots, but you can’t stay behind to take pictures. There are other guides showing their group around and you can’t mix up or delay them. So shoot fast if you want to take shots with your DSLR as well.



5. Take a wide angle and don’t change your lens.

The canyon is very narrow and you’ll definitely need a wide angle to get the good shots. I shot with an 18mm lens and it worked well. But 12mm might be even better! I’d recommend not to change lenses inside the canyon. First of all you have winds that blow the sand around. You don’t want that to happen while changing lenses. Second of all you won’t get the time to do so. A better option is to bring a second body.

6. Want to take a tripod and have more time? Take the photography tour!

By point 5 you might actually start to think that Antelope Canyon sucks for photos. Well it doesn’t. All shots here are made on high iso’s and low shutter speeds and one is made with iPhone. All of them were made during a regular tour. If you really want to bring a tripod and have more time, you might want to try the photography tour. The tour costs 128 dollars, but gives you all the opportunities. To be honest, I didn’t have the time or the money to do this tour, but by the looks of it you’ll definitely get better chances on capturing the canyon.


7. Go at noon.

Noon is the best time simply because the sun is directly above the Canyon and you’ll get the famous ‘beams’. These are basically beams of sunlight shining into the Canyon. It makes for nice photos, but I went in the afternoon and the lighting was still pretty impressive!

8. Enjoy the view.

Everything is going so fast you might get caught up so much in photographing that you forget to actually enjoy the visit. Don’t forget that a photo is only a photo. You’re walking an a true wonder of nature. Have a look around and take the time to take it all in.


9. Give lower Antelope a chance.

I haven’t been in Lower Antelope, but from what I read across the web, lower Antelope is just as impressive and gives some very good photo opportunities. I can’t say much out of my own experience, but maybe it’s worth to research this before you visit.

10. Keep your guide happy. 

The guide is essential during your tour. He shows you around and might give you some extra time. So be polite, ask questions and don’t be an asshole. I’ve seen tourists staying behind, walking right into other peoples photos and even ignoring their guide. Just don’t. Tipping is always appreciated so be sure to give an extra at the end.

11. Take water.

As an extra tip I would highly recommend to take a bottle of water with you. It can get really hot in the canyon and the air around there is very dry. The entire tour (driving back and forth included) takes up about an hour and a half, so you will get thirsty!

Found this interesting? Make sure to post it on Facebook, tweet it or pin it on Pinterest!

Shot on iPhone 5.

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