The Slot Canyon Experience
This was my first adventure into Slot Canyon but I wasn’t totally unaware of the conditions I’d be shooting in. The first thing is, you have to have a guide as it is Navajo Tribal lands. I went with one I had only heard good things about, Adventurous Antelope Canyon Photo Tours. Our guide was Stetson and he did a great job for us (pointing out all the great photo vantage points)! You start by going to their facility where you load up in their vehicles and then head down the hwy and to Antelop Cyn. You then have the 3.5mile drive up the very sandy wash to Slot Cyn. Above you see the entrance to the canyon. It’s not very big. Now there are two basic tours, the one hour tour and the two hour photo tour. The difference? Besides the time, the two hour tour, they push folks (very, very politely but their words) out so you can get the shot. I went with the one hour tour but here’s the trick I was told, be the last group before the afternoon break. It worked out very well because we could shoot looking back into the cyn and most of the time, have no one in the photo.
Because there are people EVERYWHERE in the cyn! I thought of them as pulses, because we went into the cyn just a few minutes behind the group in front of us. And kinda like a pulse, we all would move from room to room up the canyon until you reach the very end. At that point, you were set loose to walk back through the canyon (in the opposite direction) with the only limit is being back at the vehicle at the prescribed time. So I went back through the cyn again, working the pulses of folks. There were time when we could easily shoot with no one in the photo. Often, I would have to look for images shooting over folks heads to make a shot. Either case, it was pretty darn simple and a lot of gorgeous fun.
When it comes to shooting strategies, I went with my favorite fall back, KISS! I went in with just the D4s / 18-35AFS, no other lenses, filters, bags or tripod, I kept it real simple and shot handheld the whole time. I, very untypical me, shot with a high ISO, ISO1600 f/8 the whole time zooming with both my feet and my lens to make the shot. In working the canyon in this way, I didn’t have to worry about folks kicking my tripod (which I saw happen a lot), dust hitting the sensor by changing lenses, I just had fun shooting. And with just short of 1000 images filed, it seemed to have work. But that’s pretty much in a nutshell, simple plan, simple execution and simple, clean results adding up to a great experience!