As I begin my climb down the ladder into the narrow opening of the earth, I have no idea what I am about to encounter on my first photo shoot into Antelope Canyon of Arizona. Located on the Navajo Indian Reservation in Page, this wonder of nature is a popular destination for photographers and tourists alike.
Joining a group of other enthusiastic photographers, I enter the opening in the Lower Antelope Canyon through the earth’s surface. I slowly climbed down the metal ladder about 120 feet onto the sand floor of the canyon.
Looking around I am unsure what to do next. The sandstone walls surround me in every direction and I am completely fascinated by the shapes, curves and textures of the tall walls. I begin setting up my tripod and reading the light with my camera’s light meter. I quickly realize these will be some long exposures and that patience will be essential to record the different light beams bouncing off the walls from the earth above.
Not being a “geologist” of any kind, I am learning that the walls appear in my camera to be different colors based on the temperature of the light reflecting from above. The colder the light, the more “purple” the walls appear. The warmer the light, the more “orange” they appear.
The narrow path in the canyon extends for a half mile, but it feels like it is much longer than this as I work my way through the tall sandstone walls. I am continually caught between wanting to get a good photograph and feeling the magic of this unique wonder of nature. I soon understand why this sacred location is held so dearly to the wonderful people on the Navajoland.
The Navajo people call the slot canyons “the place where the water runs through the rocks”. Indeed, the water has formed some of the most beautiful and remarkable forms of rock I have ever encountered.
As I realize my journey through the canyon is about to conclude, I want to turn back and retrace my steps. My 90-minute photo journey has gone by way too fast. I immediately think to myself, “when can I return”. Antelope Canyon has captured me more than just through my camera lens, but also through my love, respect for the great gift nature provides us all.
Additional photos of Antelope Canyon, Arizona.
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