Antelope Canyon is one of the most amazing natural wonders I’ve ever been to, let alone photographed. This place has been on my bucket list ever since I saw the first photo of it. It’s located just outside of Page, in Arizona.
Living in Utah, it wasn’t too far—about a 6.5 hour drive. I put off going there because I wanted light beams and had to do some research and plan around what months they were going to be active. I was meant to go in May/June 2018, but I had to cancel both tours because of adverse weather conditions. I re-booked for July and crossed my fingers! If you’re looking to go, I highly suggest booking in advance! I know too many people who have missed out because they didn’t book. I chose to do the photo tour and it was booked out 4 weeks in advance.
There are many different types of tours you can book, but the main two are the traditional tour or the photography tour. The traditional tour is more for people who want to explore the canyon and costs around $66. The photography tour costs a lot more ($158) and you have about 2 hours with your guide and a small group. Don’t let that time frame fool you, it’s a stressful and fast-paced couple of hours. There is a lot of waiting for groups to pass by and to be cleared out of each section before you get to take your photos.
My experience here was two sided. You’re overwhelmed by the canyon’s beauty, but also stressed and filled with anxiety because you have a time limit and hordes of people going in and out. You must have a DSLR and a full size tripod for the photo tour. The bonus with the photo tour is that your guide will hold off the crowds while you have about 2 minutes to take your photo. When you’re bracketing about 7 shots, it’s not a lot of time especially when some images take up to 25 seconds in certain parts. This is not necessary but I wanted to make sure that I had a few photos from each composition to work with in post.
I booked the 11 AM - 1 PM photo tour in July, and with clear skies, you’ll get some incredible light beams and reflective light that bounces off the canyon walls. If you’re looking for similar conditions, I would highly recommend booking around these months and time of day for the best potential!
I would suggest bringing some water to keep hydrated, even though it’s a lot cooler inside the canyon. The guides will be throwing sand up into the air to create those amazing light beams, so if your camera isn’t weather sealed or you’re worried, maybe bring a cover for your camera. If you don’t want to spend any money on a cover, just grab a plastic shopping bag. If you’re sensitive to dust, wear a scarf or handkerchief that you can pull over your face while shooting.
This place can be quite difficult to shoot, especially with the time pressure and the amount of people. I would highly recommend bracketing your exposures, so you can exposure blend them later in post or have multiple images to choose from! I had only been doing photography for about 18 months when I visited, so hopefully some of these tips will help. I have also put the camera settings in the photo captions to give you an idea of what I used. If you got anything out of this little blog, please feel free to let me know! Happy shooting!