Upper Antelope Canyon
My first experience in a slot canyon was at Upper Antelope Canyon in Page, Arizona back in December of 2015. A slot canyon is a narrow passage between two rocks. The canyon itself can be fairly deep in terms of height or depth depending on your perspective. I had seen photographs of this particular canyon before I started taking photos so when I decided to book Arizona for a long weekend I knew that I had to make it up to northern Arizona. Also, Horseshoe Bend and Lake Powell are minutes away from this canyon so it makes it a mecca for landscape photographers.
Honestly, if you're in the Page, Arizona area and you don't make an attempt to walk through one of these slot canyons I feel bad for your decision making skills. I tried to do some internet research before heading out by checking tour reviews and by contacting a few of my friends on Flickr for advice since I saw that they had been there before. I got some great advice from them about the area and what to expect on the tour so I decided to book my tour with Antelope Canyon Navajo Tours. The online reviews varied on every tour with a few really good reviews, and a lot of bad reviews. I found the reason people left bad reviews was because they didn't read what their specific tour entailed, and because they probably didn't take the photography tour.
I booked the photographer tour for Upper Antelope Canyon which was $80/person. In order to do this tour you HAVE to bring a tripod and a professional grade camera. The difference between the photographer tour and the regular cheaper tour is that the photographer tour lasts way longer and you have priority over everyone else in the canyon.
Our tour guide, Roger, was a total bad ass. He yelled at anyone from another party who walked into any one of our frames (there were five photographers on the photo tour.) He gave us tips, pointers, and advice on shooting in the canyon in terms of finding the best angles. He discussed the history of the canyon in depth. And most importantly he made sure we had a great time on our tour by helping us and by making it fun. I would recommend Navajo Tours all day, every day.
As a photographer my mind was on overdrive while in the canyon. I didn't have one single thought about anything other than shooting while I was in there. I was affixed on these canyon walls like a fly on shit. I would turn my head and BAM! New angle! New color! Luckily, my tripod moves like a jellyfish and it's easy to maneuver quick enough to get in tight spots. The extra guidance from Roger helped me find new angles quicker especially when I had asked him about certain icons of the canyon like the heart and the wolf.
The absolute best part of the tour outside from having Roger guide us through the canyon was our other three amigos on the tour. And by amigos I mean the three Chinese dudes who didn't speak a Peter Lik of English. That's a joke based off Peter Lik, the famous photographer, who sold "Ghost" for a staggering $6.5 million dollars. Ghost was taken in Upper Antelope Canyon. Roger must have been used to having foreigners on his tours because he knew a few words from their language that would rope them back in line. These dudes would just Peter off on their own, and that's really the only rule in the canyon while on the tour (stay together.) Even though we couldn't speak to each other we found that photography was a great medium to break the language barrier. They would run up to me and show me their camera all excited, and I would show them mine and get a big old smile in return.