The Navajo Nation has imposed more restrictions on travel, so it might be another six months before anyone can visit here the way Covid cases are going. I’m glad I’ve had opportunities to see many places on the reservation, including some not available to most. This is one of those photos that I think most people would show in color (with the saturation boosted as well), but the details are perfectly suited to black and white.
Antelope Canyon is one of the most photographed spots in the southwestern US. As you wander through this tight canyon, you can’t help but eventually look towards the sky which is no longer visible. Light tries to find its way to the bottom, and as it does, highlights the textures of the smooth, twisted, sculpted walls.
This is my contribution to Leanne Cole’s Monochrome Madness this week. Being the first one of the month, there was a theme of From Under. To see what other photographers have contributed, or instructions to join in, please visit Leanne’s website.
It was really one of those days when you don’t want to be outside – a late spring day on the Colorado Plateau. With a cold front sliding by to the north, winds were a constant 45mph and gusting in the 60s. Yet, the sun was still out. Every loose particle of dust from Barstow to Albuquerque was on the move. I was driving near Page, Arizona so I thought the shelter of Antelope Canyon would be a good place to hide out for a while.
There had been a tour group going through, so another photographer and I just stayed back a ways. The sun only has a few minutes each day to pinpoint its way through the narrow opening of the canyon. As it did on this particular day, the wind gusts were picking up nearby sand and depositing it in the canyon. In the three exposures I took, I can see the movement of the shaft of light. I also had to blow sand off my lens between exposures. Mostly, we were thankful the tour group did not return at this moment.
I was using a large format film camera, with slow film, and the aperture stopped down for depth of field. Even though this is the brightest light I have ever seen in Antelope Canyon, that all translates to long exposure. Similar to long exposures of moving water, it took several seconds for the swirling dust to fill the shaft of light. Had today’s digital cameras been around back then, I could have taken this with a higher ISO and lower f-stop and perhaps captured this as Peter Lik did in his “Phantom”. Some of you may recognize this location from “Phantom” – a work that Peter Lik supposedly sold for $6.5 million.
This has been my second best selling print, but if someone wants it in a wall sized b&w, I would close the edition and let it go for a mere million.
For this week’s Daily Post Challenge of Shine
This week’s Daily Post Challenge of Narrow made me immediately think of slot canyons. The most famous (and photographed) one is Antelope Canyon, and you can find thousands of shots from inside the canyon, but have you ever wondered what it looked like from outside? This is lower Antelope Canyon (above), and that narrow crack in the earth is about 50 to 60 feet deeper than what you can see at this spot. Water has worn it smooth all the way, so think of this as the bathtub drain if there’s a thunderstorm nearby.
Not far from Antelope Canyon, even deeper and equally claustrophobic is Paria Canyon, with the branch known as Buckskin Gulch. Once you’ve entered, it remains this narrow for miles, with few escape routes. The drainage continues upcanyon for many miles, and there are logs jammed in a couple spots high above your head to remind you that this is a sunny day hike. If it has flooded recently, you will find this impassible due to quicksand.
A much tighter series of canyons exist in Cathedral Gorge State Park in eastern Nevada. No chance of being caught in a flood here, because these don’t travel very far. In some spots you will have to walk sideways to get through. Without some object providing a sense of scale, this may be difficult to obtain perspective, but I can’t walk through this canyon with my feet side by side.
One place that I find quite unique is this series of canyons at the base of Mount Charleston, Nevada. The canyons themselves are not that narrow or deep, but there is this narrow passage from one canyon to the next one.