Archive for the ‘Page’ Tag

One more Page: Antelope Canyon and Night Balloons   2 comments

An Arizona slot canyon catches a tumbleweed.

Hot air balloons are illuminated at night during the Page, Arizona Balloon Regatta.

I stayed one more day and night in Page, Arizona.  I am so glad I did!  I broke down and did the tourist thing at Antelope Canyon.  While this time of year sees the sun only peeking into the upper parts of this 150-foot deep slot canyon, it is still a great place to photograph.  Yes it is one of the most over-photographed places in the American Southwest, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t visit this incredible natural wonder if you find yourself in the neighborhood.

A beam of light penetrates Antelope Canyon in Arizona.

Your best bet if you have wheels is to drive the short distance out to the Navajo Tribal Park, where you will pay $6 for entry, then $25 for a tour of the canyon.  You can also book a somewhat more expensive trip direct from Page.  You can’t miss the signs in town.  If you go during mid-day, you will pay more ($40), since that is when the sun during summer shines directly into the canyon, and it is more crowded.  So make the tour at 10 a.m., or after 2 p.m.  If you really want that sunbeam onto the canyon floor shot, go in mid-April or later.  April is perfect, since it is a bit less crowded (and cooler) than high summer.

Traveling through an Arizona slot canyon in black and white.

In Arizona near Lake Powell, a small alcove in the Navajo Sandstone catches a small sand dune.

You will board the back of a truck rigged with benches and bounce along a sand track for 4 or 5 miles to the canyon’s lower entrance.  You only tour the lower 1/4 mile or so of the slot, but this is enough for the hour+  tour, believe me!  Although there are plenty of people in the canyon, it is just wide enough to allow you to pass.  People are pretty good about not getting in your shot, though you will need to be a bit resourceful in this regard.  I pointed my camera up for the most part, so people could pass under my shot.

Your exposures will be long, and flash is not a great idea (most guides do not allow them), so definitely bring a good tripod.  A wide angle lens is necessary, but also bring a longer lens, say a fast 50 mm. and maybe a 70-200 as well.  You will see compositions that require some isolation from surrounding darker or cluttered areas.  Get low, get high, include a lot of the wall, shoot straight down the slot, shoot straight up.  Do anything for variety.  Remember, this place has been shot to death.

You can take a tour specifically focused on photography, but then you might have a guide telling you where and how to shoot.  Unless you’re a beginner, be careful what type of guide you hire.  I noticed while I was there that the photo guides definitely have favorite spots to shoot, and were mostly telling not suggesting where to shoot.  This further compounds the problem of too many similar shots of the place being out there on the web.

There are two other sections of the canyon you can explore.  One is the lower canyon, just across the road from the upper’s staging area.  It costs $20 to hike this, and it is more of an independent hike than the upper slot.  It is also much wider and less of a slot canyon than the upper.  There is also a higher upper portion of the slot canyon, above the more popular section.  My guide told me it is possible to book a tour to explore this section, which is way less crowded but still a nice narrow, sculpted slot canyon.

After this I took a neat hike, just to explore some of the slickrock country visible from the highway.  I love doing this.  Nobody else ever thinks about just parking and taking off cross-country.  I believe I might have been on Navajo land in part, so I was risking an encounter to some degree.  Scrambling around, “friction hiking” the slickrock alcoves was very cool (image left).  But something happened to my heel, and now I have symptoms of the dreaded plantar fasciitis.

Later that evening, the weekend’s main event took place.  On the Saturday night of the Balloon Regatta weekend in Page, all the balloonists inflate their balloons along the main street in Page, and fire up their burners.  Instead of launching, the balloon pilots illuminate their balloons for everyone.  There is food, games and activities for kids, a beer garden, and a general atmosphere of festivity in the air.  I was pretty happy with the pictures I got of the glowing balloons.  It was a bit like shooting fireworks, where you open the shutter for a fairly long spell during the action and hope for good shots.  Since the pilots use walkie talkies to synchronize their burners, it’s easy to tell when to fire the shutter.  I set my exposure off of one of the glowing balloons, and then left the camera on manual and zoomed back out for the shots.

The Page Balloon Regatta culminates in a panoply of glowing balloons.

It was a great long weekend in Page, on the shores of Lake Powell.  Warm weather, fun people, and red rock canyon country all around you.  What more could you ask for?  It was on to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon for me after that, and that is the subject of my next post.

The sun peeks into the narrow confines of Antelope Canyon, Arizona.

Page and Lake Powell   1 comment

Dawn breaks over Lake Powell in Utah.

 

This will be a shortish post (for me!).  I wanted to post a few pictures from the shores of Lake Powell, near Page, Arizona.  But first I want to let you know (since I haven’t in awhile) that these photos are copyrighted material.  If you click on one you’ll be taken to the website for MJF Images, where they will be appearing in finished form very soon.  These versions are really too small for you to put them to good use.  When you get to the website, browse the images and, if you like, you may purchase with a single click: downloads, prints, framed, canvas, whatever you wish.  Please contact me if you have any questions or just want to order one of the images from a recent blog.  I’ll get it out to you right away.  Thanks for your cooperation and interest.

Lake Powell and the graveled part of Lone Rock Beach reflect a colorful dawn sky.

This is the first time I’ve ever been to this summer playground in the desert.  People flock here to ply the waters of Lake Powell, the reservoir behind the damn dam that has drowned Glen Canyon for decades now.  And to think they named it after the man who journeyed through Glen Canyon when it was at its raw best, and who loved the canyons for their naked beauty.  Renting a house boat is very popular, as is drinking and soaking up the sun.  But it is November  now, with chilly mornings and wonderful days.  Only a few tourists around, but it is not at all near deserted.  And this is especially true this weekend, the first in November, when the annual hot air balloon festival takes place.  Dozens of hot air balloons launch at dawn, and the town is all abuzz.

The area around Page, Arizona and Glen Canyon Dam is peppered with small sandstone buttes, which are fossil sand dunes.

It clouded up late yesterday afternoon, but the sunset was only okay considering.  I camped at the shores of Lake Powell at Lone Rock Beach to take advantage of what I thought might be a nice sunrise because of the cloudiness.  I could have instead shot balloons at dawn, but there is so much photography of hot air balloons.  I know what you’re thinking…there is no shortage of colorful sunrise pictures consisting of water and sky.  But give me a break.  The days have cloudless and rather boring (for photography) for the past couple weeks.  So I did not want to waste the opportunity.

A lone hot air balloon floats beyond the golf course in Page, Arizona during its annual balloon festival.

This is a great time to visit the area, being cool and uncrowded.  The middle of October might be even better, for fall colors.  But there are precious few aspens or cottonwoods in the area.  The balloon festival is certainly not a bad time to visit.  You might want to make reservations if you plan on staying in a hotel.  There are other events going on over the weekend.  It is a small town, and when things go on in towns this size, you know it.  People are in a great mood.

Lone Rock in Lake Powell, Utah stands high in late fall’s low water.

The big question I have for myself is whether to go on to the north rim of Grand Canyon today, or hang around and tour Antelope Canyon.  If you don’t know, Antelope Canyon is that slot canyon you see so much of in photographs.  The red sculpted walls that arch over forming a roof, and often with a shaft of sunlight streaming in from above.  Well, I am certainly in to that sort of photograph.  But this is one of the most over-photographed subjects in the Southwest, so I am more than hesitant.  I may try instead to get similar shots in a different slot canyon to the north, in the Escalante River region.  But then again, if you see Antelope Canyon shots in my next post, you’ll know I caved and did the tour.  It is on Navajo land and costs $25-40 to take the tour.

Well, enjoy the photos and take care everyone.  Happy fall (it’s still fall, right?) and don’t forget to set your clocks back one hour tomorrow night.

A lonely Lone Rock beach on Lake Powell in Utah greets an early November dawn.

 

The balloon festival at Page as viewed from the Glen Canyon Dam.

 

Lake Powell along the Utah/Arizona border glories in sunrise.

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