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Sand Falls, Upper Antelope Canyon

Posted by
Don Smith (California, United States) on 28 March 2011 in Landscape & Rural.


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Antelope Canyon in Page, Arizona has gotten a reputation as the slot canyon of choice by photographers from around the world. A visit inside this iconic canyon during the time when the light shafts are present will confirm this fact; the narrow slot resembles more of a crammed subway at rush hour than a peaceful, spiritual retreat.

Once a year, I lead a group of workshop photographers through this canyon (yes, adding to the traffic jam) in search of our own images. Without fail, the image most want to come away with is that of the light shaft. On this particular trip, we were fortunate enough to see five shafts! All of them were beautiful in their own right, but I believe there is so much more to Upper Antelope than just the shaft of light.

Having prepped my group for the crunch they would feel while the shafts were present, I assured them that there would be a calm period once the sun passed overhead. The multitude of photographers and tourists subside and one can calm the nerves, feel some peace, and concentrate on the other treats the canyon has to offer - and they are many.

One such treat was this sand fall that had initially started with blowing sand from some 60 feet above. Seizing on an opportunity, our guide Bruce kept the flow alive as he would throw sand up above this fall creating this streaking river you see here. I captured this image with a slow shutter speed of four seconds helping to aid the illusion of motion.

Isolation images within Antelope are everywhere, yet I see many photographers trying to capture a wide view. Wide views at high noon are difficult as the contrast range within the canyon can easily exceed the sensor's limited capture range of approximately six stops of light.

This particular scene was bathed with even light as it resided at the base of the canyon. Fortunately the sand fell in an area void of footsteps allowing for a natural and peaceful scene. A pleasant surprise was the small tumbleweed hiding in the shadows, which revealed itself during processing. With the dim light of the canyon, it escaped my eye when I captured this scene.

Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III 4 seconds F/11.0 ISO 200 70 mm

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