Antelope Canyon

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I had heard of this famous place and, having a morning to kill in Page, Arizona, in late May, 2016 (Memorial Day Weekend), I decided to spend it on one of the tours organized by the Navajo. There are two canyons, Upper and Lower, and I went through the half-mile Lower Canyon. It was a total zoo as it was a holiday weekend. There was a long line of cars to get through the main gate. My friend left me off and I stood in line, not walking past the other cars.

And there was a long line there, but a separate window for Reserved Places made that simple for me. So then I joined a group of 17 with a pleasant young Navajo woman to guide us through. The throngs of people were unbelievable. Could I actually enjoy the canyon in such a context? Of course I wanted to take pictures, but that really was not my main goal: I just wanted to see it.

This passage from Jane Gardam's The Hollow Land comes to mind. Two boys go on an "Icicle Ride" to see an unusual formation of icicles on grass and one is worried that no one will believe them.

     "Oh, believed is nothing," said Old Hewitson, producing chocolate cornflakes from somewhere.
      Getting believed's the least part of it. It's going about and seeing after things as matters. I'se seed
      them icicles once, you'd seed them once. Our Bell's seed them twice. I reckon we're all lucky, It's
      all that matters, seeing them. In fact, maybe if you hadn't set out to see 'em they wouldn't have been
      there. We'll never know. Icicles need eyes to look at 'em".
                     [And then a paragraph basically about "if a tree falls in the forest, etc".]

Now, Antelope Canyon is an extreme opposite to Bell's isolated and rare icicles. Still: I've seed it at last, and happy I am that I did. I think the best slots I have seen are, in this order: Egypt 3, Zebra, Brimstone, the Lemon Squeezer+Iron Lung, Spooky, and three in the Red Breaksarea. Antelope is completely different from these. The variety of these justifiably famous slot canyons on the Colorado Plateau is truly remarkable. Whether the Navajo are doing the right thing or the best thing, I can't say. It is all so highly controlled as to be slightly unpleasant. But given that the slots are close to a highway and city, what other option is there?

I saw a Datura plant on the way out; I had never seen that famous, poisonous flower before.


The line waiting to snake through Lower Antelope Canyon. The woman with the red pack is the guide for our group of 17. It actually was fairly well organized.

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The scene in the canyon. Everyone is interested in selfies or pics of themselves.

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And the exit after the half-mile passage.

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But all the best photo ops are looking upward, away from the people. So one can do something even in this less than ideal situation. There are technical problems of course. ISO 800 or more does work reasonably well but high ISO does add noise. One must strive for a steady camera at shutter speeds 1/100 second or lower. My favorite shot is CHAOS: 1/100 second, f4.0, ISO800.

Sandy Wave:

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Frozen Ripples:

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Window:

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Chaos:

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Side Walls:

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Datura:

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On Saturday BIll and I went to Rainbow Ridge in a rented boat. We were the first ones there and had a superb view of this most-dramatic structure.

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