Monday, October 12, 2009

"The Chains" and "Rattlesnake"

Yesterday, I spent the morning in the Page, Arizona area.  I was taking a "photographic" tour in the Antelope Canyon area at 10 AM so I wandered down to Lake Powell at sunrise.  There is a day use area just south of the bridge across the canyon called "The Chains" where you can park and wonder around on the slick rock and go down to the lake's edge.  I photographed in this area for an hour or so and it was quiet and peaceful for a while until the airplanes started flying and the power boats started their journeys on the lake.  Apparently, there are quite a few tours you can take by small aircraft and one of the popular times to fly is just after sunrise.  I photographed smooth rocks that have weathered out of the sandstone, animal tracks in the sand, sandstone shapes and the lake itself.  The photo below gives a wide angle view of what one sees standing on the shore of Lake Powell at this time of day before the boats take to the water and make a lot of waves.

Later on, I went over to Antelope Canyon for my tour.  This area has become a very popular place since I was last there.  When I last visited, probably 14 years ago, I had to go to a particular gas station, hire a Navajo guide, and be driven out to upper and lower Antelope Canyon.  Now there is an entrance station where you pay $6 to get in to park at upper Antelope and there are rows of trucks, each able to carry about 14 people, waiting to take you on a tour.  The first hour of my tour was going along with the less expensive, non-photographic, tour.  When I was at upper antelope, there were about 5 tour trucks there from various tour companies around Page.  In the canyon itself, not a very big place, there were at least 60 people, and it was very difficult to take any photographs without people in them.  One strategy I saw a lot of people using was to point their cameras up at the "ceiling" of the canyon.  However, this approach gives very high contrast images because the upper areas of the canyon are illuminated by the sun while the lower areas are in deep shadow.  For the second half of my 2 hour tour, I was dropped off, by myself, at a smaller canyon, called "Rattlesnake", for about an hour.  This small canyon is much harder to negotiate than the larger Antelope Canyon, but I had it all to myself!  Rattlesnake is harder to negotiate as it has some small drop offs and very narrow areas to squeeze through.  I took the following photograph in Rattlesnake of a nose of sandstone that jutted out into one of the "rooms".

The "regular" tour of Antelope costs $25 and the "photographers" tour is $40. My recommendation for visiting Antelope is to go on a week day, perhaps there will be fewer people then.  Also, if you go when the sun is more overhead, you will see more of the shafts of sunlight that come down through the crack in the "roof".  This time of year, the sun is too low on the horizon to get these shafts. As ever, click on the images to see larger versions on my web site.

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