Lower Antelope Canyon

Image © 2017/Denise Ippolito Photography ~ The Arch

The slot canyon was beautiful and I could see it as being a treasure trove if you had it to yourself or at least without the busloads of tourists. I couldn’t believe how many people they crammed in the slot canyon. It was literally bumper to bumper people. If you are claustrophobic then this would not be a good tour for you as we had to climb down a slit in the rocks. After climbing down into the canyon I could see how you could clean up with shots if you had some time to get your tripod set up and everyone wasn’t banging into you. I was sweating it out, I could see hundreds of compositions. I will share more photos that I captured in some more private slot canyons in an upcoming post.

To process the images in this post I mostly used Lightroom with basic adjustments to the temperature and tint sliders. I also used some Glamour Glow in Nik. The purple tones in the images comes from the shading and the yellows from the sun. The light play on the walls was incredible and again, I wish I could have had more time to explore that light interaction. Our guide held back the groups at one of the locations as it was a spot where folks were getting their selfies taken. He referred to it as the arch. My favorite is the very top image.

The image below was captured handheld with the Canon 11-24mm f/4 lens. I pointed my camera straight up, this was good because I avoided all the people in my shot. I braced myself against the canyon wall. I saw this shot online and asked our guide if he knew where it was taken and he took us right to it. I’m sure it has a name but I don’t know what it is. I wish I composed it with a bit more on the bottom but I basically had minutes to see it and shoot it.

If I knew that I wouldn’t have more time to set up my tripod, I would have brought my OlympusOM-D E-M1 Mark II Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Digital Camera because I can handhold that at a 30th of a second.

Image © 2017/Denise Ippolito Photography

Image © 2017/Denise Ippolito Photography

PS- Happy Belated Birthday to my good friend Sally Foster 🙂 I wish you many more!!

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32 Responses

  1. Pat lillich says:

    Exquisite Denise, i knew your vision there would give wonderful images.

    Hi Pat, thank you so much, I appreciate it.

  2. eloise carson says:

    Wonderful as usual. I must say, I like that people appreciate and visit our national parks, but it has gotten crazy with the number of people, even in the “off season”, which doesn’t exist anymore. Last year I went to Zion about this time and hiked up the Virgin River. There were so many people, it was really hard to not get them in the photo. Our guide said that was nothing compared to normal traffic!

    Yes, it really takes away from the experience. Thank you Eloise.

  3. Nice shots Denise! Things sure have changed since 2002 when I was there. Back then if you waited a minute or two you could get a clean shot from top to bottom, including the sand floor, with ISO 50 film for a several second exposure on tripods. Digital (including today’s phones) has made lots of places much more popular.

    Hi Scott, thank you. Yes, it has turned into a zoo at some spots. And while I love that so many people are loving the canyons, I just wish it were not so busy…

  4. Nancy Bell says:

    WOW! These are stunning! What a huge bummer it is to hear about the wall-to-wall people. I always wanted to see this but now I don’t know. I’m not a big fan of wading through crowds. 🙁

    Hi Nancy, I agree, but I suffered for my shots 🙂

  5. I can remember sitting in lower with a friend playing guitars and not another soul around. I lead workshops there now and sure is a big difference! However, some of my best images have been taken under the toughest of crowds lately. It can be done as evidenced by your gorgeous images.

    Hi Suzanne, welcome to my blog and thank you for your kind words. I could not even imagine having the place to myself. I did want to get some photographs and braving the crowds was the only way, but if there is a will there is a way -right! I did find some private slot canyons that worked out as well.

  6. Carlotta Grenier says:

    However Denise, you did an incredible great job for having been unable to spent more time.

    Hi Carlotta, thank you so much. I do wish I had more time out west and in that canyon!

  7. Oh, yeah!! Some of the best images I’ve seen from Lower Antelope …
    SO beautiful !!

    When we were there I think there must have been a thousand people marching through the narrows. It’s a miracle of sorts that the place is not completely trashed. The Navajo take excellent care of this jewel.

    I remember having to summon courage to carry my tripod, w/ camera and camera bag down those steep steel stairs. It was more like descending a ladder than stairs. A bit harrowing with only one hand to hold on with, but totally worth it.

    Totally worth it sums it up. Thank you so much for your kind words Brent, they mean a lot. I think everyone should still make it a must see. The Navajo were extremely kind to me and I loved our guide, he was very nice and helped us to find another slot canyon and guide.

  8. Stan Collyer says:

    Great shots, as always, Denise. My favorite is the one you shot handheld pointing straight up. It’s one of the very best slot canyon shots I’ve seen.

    Hi Stan, thank you so much. That means a lot. I hope all is well.

  9. Tony Botelho says:

    Sorry to hear about the bus loads of people in lower Antelope canyon. When I photographed it some years ago the upper Antelope canyon was crowded but the lower canyon had few people going through it. Then again it was in the middle of winter which might have made a difference. Truly a special place! Another special place somewhat close to Page is Vermillion Cliffs. The only problem with that is they only allow few people a day to go there, which means you have to sign up for it and take your chances that you will be one of the lucky ones.

    Vermillion Cliffs and the Wave are on my list for sure! Many years ago I had the chance to go but had no interest. I was totally wrapped around wildlife…now I am so anxious to get back to that beautiful land!

  10. Gorgeous shots of lower Antelope Canyon. I’ve put off going there because I’ve heard that it was very crowded in the canyons. The slots are also known for flash flooding. Just Google Antelope Canyon Flash Flood. It’s amazing how much the desert can change in a short amount of time.

    Hi Michael, hope you are well. Thank you so much for your kind comments. Yes, flash floods are extremely dangerous and one should always check and re-check the forecast before getting themselves into that kind of a position.

  11. PegCodey says:

    Denise,So inspiring!!! Had the same crowds at Yellowstone in June. Missed quite a bit due to the bus loads of people!

    Hi Peg, I guess everywhere is starting to fill up with busloads. I think one way to control the crowds would be to not allow busses filled with folks or at least reduce the amount of busses at any given time. Not sure..

  12. Carolyn says:

    Definitely on my bucket list . .. what fabulous photos!!!

    Hi Carolyn, Thank you kindly. I would suggest sooner than later. That entire area is gorgeous.

  13. James Saxon says:

    Wow! Sorry to hear about all the people in there. I know the Navajos have found a way to make money. The first time I visited in the late 90s there were not a lot of folks around and the second time I was there in ’11 the place was packed but our guide kept folks out of our photos, but we had to hurry. While in that area go to Horsehoe Bend. Take the 11-24 lens with you to get the entire horseshoe. Enjoy your travels to the Southwest.

    Hi James, Thank you, I already went to Horseshoe Bend 3x and I did use the 11-24mm, I’ll be sharing those images soon. I think it was a good choice for the bend too.

  14. Carmenza says:

    This are amazing photos, to bad you had to work that hard for them, I do not like crowds so I will have to forget about this trip.

    Hi Carmenza, Thank you so much . Yes, crowds but totally worth it in my opinion. It is soooooo beautiful and not to be missed. Besides you could tough it out for a couple of hours-they go quick!

  15. Jeff Carlson says:

    Great images Denise. Hope to have an opportunity to battle the crowds to execute my own image of the slot canyons soon.

    Hi Jeff, Thank you kindly. I highly recommend it crowds and all!

  16. Sharon Hallowell says:

    They’re all great images, but that first one is over the top good!

    Hi Sharon, thank you so much. I like that one too!

  17. Sue Harvey Eberhart says:

    I have seen many images from this location and there is much sameness about them, however, despite all the obstacles, you created something unique and absolutely stunning!

    Hi Sue, thank you so much. I truly appreciate it. I loved it out west and can’t wait to get back.

  18. Ron May says:

    Very nice images. Hard for me to pick a favourite, but I do like the third one very much.

    Thank you so much Ron, I appreciate it.

  19. David Steele says:

    Denise, you did a great job despite the hassles, really crisp. I see a lot of images of Lower Antelope Canyon in my work (often with burnt out areas!) and these are really out of the top drawer. Just imagine what you could do if you had the place to yourself for a couple of hours. . . .

    Hi David, thank you, that means a lot to me. I do wish I could have the place to myself, I’m sure everyone does. But looking back on it – it was a challenge and I do like a challenge! Can’t wait to get back.

  20. Buddy Eleazer says:

    Blame the internet. When I was shooting there in Aug 2007, crowds were small and it was easy to get a private photo tour. Even today, crowds are less in Upper Antelope as the passages are narrower and require a few ladders.

    Hi Buddy, It is funny because as much as I want everyone to love and adore our national tresures I also selfishly want them to myself 🙂 But I agree something to slow up the busloads would be good. Upper is better in the summer months as you can photograph the light beams, there is not enough light or rather very limited light in Upper at this time of year and that is why I chose the Lower. But when I go back I am doing both 🙂

  21. All lovely images, Denise!! My husband and I were there in 2010. The crowds were bad then too, but probably not as bad now. It is very hard to go anywhere now without tourist buses taking over!!

    Hi Marilyn, yes, I agree. Thank you for stopping by I appreciate your kind comments.

  22. Lesliediana says:

    Denise, Knew I could count on you getting images so far removed from the “standard” slot canyon images. So stellar, especially the third one. There was a NYT article not too long ago about the crowds in the national parks. The trash and damage is getting rampant. NPS is reluctant to start limiting access but they know they have to do something. Besides not having adequate funding.

    Hi Lesliediana, thank you so much for your kind words, I appreciate them. I read an article recently too, it may have been in the NYT. Access will probably have to be limited, I can’t see any other way. Still a gorgeous place to visit 🙂

  23. Kasandra Sproson says:

    These are spectacular Denise! Thank you for sharing your experience as it really forewarns anyone going there…me being one who has/had this on my bucket list!

    Hi Kassandra, thank you so much. I appreciate it. This is a place that you will most likely want to visit sooner than later.

  24. Drea says:

    The one you shot straight up is called “Sunrise over the Rockies” It’s one of my favorites and you definately did it justice. It’s very hard to get it without a fast, wide lens……Drea

    Hi Drea, thank you for letting me know the name and thanks for your kind words.

  25. Drea says:

    PS. This is not a national park. It is on Navajo Land… they do a pretty good job of protecting it, but the money they make is tempting them to let too many into the canyon at the same time. It gets better every year with the water and flooding changing it constantly….the crowds however are growing.

    Yes, I do know that it is not a NP, but it feels like it is and the Navajo are fantastic with keeping it beautiful but the crowds are just overwhelming. I’d still go again in a heartbeat!!

  26. Dee Ellison says:

    Gorgeous place and gorgeous images! Per your suggestion, I will NOT be taking this workshop — I am definitely claustrophobic. :-)) But hope to join you on another workshop soon.

    Hi Dee, no problem, I will most likely be doing one in 2018 but don’t sign up for it if you are claustrophobic 🙂

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