After leaving Monument Valley the following day we headed over to Page, Arizona, there are two very special locations we planned to visit close by to this town ~~ Horseshoe bend and Antelope Canyon. After a few hours drive through the beautiful Arizona desert and checking into our hotel we headed over to Horseshoe bend about an hour before sunset. Located on the north-eastern end of the Grand Canyon this place is a just a mile or two south of Page. Arriving with high expectations we were slightly disappointed to find that the premium spot for taking this shot was already filled up with camera tripods booking their spot early, this reminded me of coming down from the hotel on a beautiful Spanish morning in my younger years to the hotel pool, only to find all the sunbeds had been taken by people laying their towels on them earlier (I wont go into who it was, us Brits know only too well :). Anyhow, unperturbed we had a walk around the ledge to find another good spot to set up.
It quickly became clear that my head for heights wasn’t as good as it was in my youth, edging ever closer to the 1000ft drop in front of me my body started to shake and a sub conscious and uncontrollable self preservation kicked in, it took me a good 20 minutes to get myself into a comfortable position on that ledge to setup my camera and tripod and line up for the sunset that was edging closer by the second. The typical shot everyone seems to take from this locale is pretty much a straight on shot without any rocks in the foreground, to me this doesn’t really give much sense of depth and in hindsight I’m kind of glad we didn’t get to shoot from that spot, this forced me to look around and use some rocks in the foreground to give more sense of depth to the image. I snapped of a fair few frames over the course of the sunset and picked the best one in post. So while this isn’t your typical shot of this location, and I was a little disappointed that we didn’t get the common photo spot, but glad also, as it forced me to look around and find an alternative which had some added benefits in giving more depth to the final image, hope you like it, Thank goodness for live view and remote shutters –
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The next morning we headed over to Upper Antelope canyon for our pre booked photo tour. While doing research of this place beforehand it looked like a peaceful and somewhat solitary location to go shoot some light beams, little did we know at this point what was waiting for us when we got there. The guy we spoke to on the phone when we booked the week before advised us that mid morning to midday would be the best time to shoot here for the light beams, so we booked our tour accordingly. Upon arriving it didn’t look so bad, 10-20 people in the car park, with a few more turning up every so often, so far so good. we boarded our SUV and headed up into the canyon via a long dirt track that took 10 minutes or so to reach the entrance to the canyon. A few people were standing around outside as we unloaded and got our gear ready for the shoot.
Upon entering the canyon things quickly changed, there were dozens of people everywhere, people throwing up dust to create light beams, people standing in said light beams having their picture taken and tripods as far as you could see, how wrong I was in my research before. The first 10-15 minutes were a complete nightmare, the place was way overcrowded, it was impossible to get a decent shot of anything without people blindly walking through the area we were trying to photograph and also being huddled into these caves made it really hard to even find a decent spot to get anything good. I thought I was the one not good with crowds of people but I took a deep breath and got on with it, my friend however was not happy and was becoming increasingly more and more mad about this whole situation, and it showed, we paid premium for this tour and our guide wasn’t helping at all. After about 30 minutes it must have become clear to our guide that we weren’t pleased with the situation, and he actually started to direct people and we were finally able to get some shots, albeit not very many, what was to be a nice peaceful end to our photo trip turned into a photographers worst nightmare. We carried on, got a few decent shots, lighting was tricky in these dark caves with bright light beams shining down, but I managed to get a few good ones and left with a sizable amount of dust covering my equipment, lesson learned!
Tip: If you’re thinking of visiting this place, you may want to consider an off peak day, maybe a Monday or early weekday, Saturday is so busy it makes it real hard to get a decent shot and its not relaxing at all, in fact its quite stressful in there when its busy. We paid extra for a “photo-tour” and to be honest I really don’t see how it was worth it, we shot the same areas as everyone who payed less, all we had extra was a guide who despite early in-competencies, didn’t really help us much as he could in getting decent photos, we always felt rushed , I imagine the National Geographic guys who come here and do great work must somehow get the place to themselves for a few hours, I cant see how they would fare with the bedlam that we experienced.
Anyhow, not the end to our trip that we were hoping for, but not entirely a waste of time, I got a few really good shots and will be posting them for sale really soon.