Or more appropriately, “Do I see what you see?” Probably not. And what your camera sees is something else.
I have a vision problem. In grade 4 as the school nurse was checking my eyesight, my friend Dale was shocked as I struggled to read the letters on the eye chart! But he was in hysterics as I failed each of the Ishihara colour tests.
This leads to an interesting analogy. Do you see what your camera sees? Why not try a slot canyon colour test in Utah or northern Arizona?
If you’re ever close to Page in northwestern Arizona, be sure you visit at least one of the Antelope Canyons, perhaps the most photogenic slot canyons.
Upper and Lower Antelope Canyons are only a kilometer apart. We booked an early morning photo tour of Lower Antelope because it can be less crowded.
The tops of the Antelope Canyons are very narrow, so sunlight penetrates only partially down, bouncing from wall to wall and diffusing into a warm light. You’ll see scenery that is unbelievably beautiful. If the light is right, your camera will record images that are out of this world.
To take a photo tour, each participant must have a tripod. Days in advance, we arranged to rent one from Ken’s Tours and for rush-delivery of a five-ounce TrailPix tripod that uses your inverted hiking poles for its legs—a brilliant and lightweight solution for hiking and travelling.
The iPhone image of the tripod and canyon is similar to what you see with your naked eye.
But the image taken with a one-second exposure with the Olympus camera on the tripod at the same time is much warmer than the iPhone image.
Magic happened almost an hour and a half later with the sun at a better angle; an Olympus image taken from the same spot explodes with colour including the dramatic touch of yellow in the middle.
In Lower Antelope, the canyon floor is very narrow so you have to work quickly to capture your image, or you’ll be “photo-bombed” by someone in your photo tour or, more likely, from someone in the larger groups of guided tours. But patience can be very rewarding.
If you’re on a guided (non-photo) tour, you can’t take a tripod because they want to keep the groups moving through quickly to allow more time for those on photo tours to capture longer-exposure images. By putting your camera on a higher ISO setting, you’ll still be able to capture dramatic photos.
And if you have an iPhone, using the built-in chrome filter will dramatize the image with high saturation and a purplish tint to the shadows. Our guide, Brandon, also suggested pushing the light on the iPhone for a bit of overexposure. The first image below is taken with an iPhone; the second with our Olympus camera on a tripod.
I may not be able to interpret the numbers in the Ishihara charts but I can see the dramatic range of colour in Lower Antelope Canyon and a camera sees even more brilliance. We suggest Antelope Canyons be on a jubilados’ must-see list.
Guided tours are mandatory for both the Upper and Lower Antelope Canyons. We booked Lower Antelope Canyon through Ken’s Photo Tours.
For Ken’s Photo Tour, the required equipment includes a SLR or DSLR camera (or a mirrorless camera if its lens is interchangeable) AND a tripod for each individual. Trip duration is two hours, with a maximum group size of ten. The cost is $42 plus a Navajo Permit Fee of $8.
For the guided tour, cameras are allowed but tripods or monopods are not. Trip duration is one hour and 15 minutes, with a maximum group size of 15. The cost is $20 plus a Navajo Permit Fee of $8.
Here’s what they say about timing: “The Lower Antelope Canyon is photogenic throughout the day. However, if you are looking for more vibrant colors, you would need to book anytime other than noon when the colors are washed out.”
“Conversely, the Upper Antelope Canyon has limited light, so direct sunlight at noon is the best time.” In the Upper Canyon, the iconic photograph is of shafts of light, created when your guide tosses powdery sand into beams of sunlight. It creates beautiful pictures, but take compressed air to clean your equipment.
Check out more photos of Antelope Canyons by our Navajo guide Brandon Dugi.
Also check out the full-sized tripod from TrailPix with palm-sized weight and convenience.