Upper Antelope Canyon, Page AZ, Godbeams

If you are in the vicinity of Page, Arizona, consider a tour of the some of the slot canyons in the area.

I have a caveat: Photographers better be prepared to be herded through quickly, no tripods or backpacks, no water bottles, and no lingering. And the godbeams only happen around noon and only for a few months of the year.

Below I describe how I made these images.

Feature Image Details

I set my camera to take 5 images. The base exposure, +1 stop, +2 stops, -1 stop, and -2 stops. I turned on image stabilization in the camera. I figured I would have to blend images as the highlights have a tendency to blow out. Image alignment can be a problem unless one is very steady. In the end, I decided to work with a single image.

Vertical Image

Reflected Light

Except to capture light beams, it is best to avoid direct light. In the above image, I ducked under a ledge and braced myself as far back as possible so there was no sky in the picture. Reflected light bouncing off the walls brings out these beautiful colors.

Every image in this post is predominantly reflected light or light beams. Only the vertical image has the light striking the rock.

Anything the light directly hits will blow out with no detail, and surrounding areas will be very bright. Ideally I would have a tripod, focus on the nearest canyon wall, then on the back wall, with varying exposures and blend them all. You will have no chance to do this.

The light level in this room looking sideways was much dimmer than above. This shot was at 30mm for 1/10 of a second. Without image stabilization it’s unlikely one can hold the camera steady enough to be truly sharp.

Also, people are walking all around. Either be the first or last person in your group or people will be in the way.

This is much more frustrating for a photographer than for someone who just wants to see these beautiful slot canyons and grab a few images on their phone.

Footprints are a huge nuisance. I found one section of a room with no footprints and blended the sand in. There were no footprints to mess with in the lead image.

Coming Up

Lower Antelope Canyon and Canyon X

Lower Antelope Canyon has similar restrictions but Canyon X offers higher priced tours for photographers that allow tripods. Still it’s frustrating. Canyon X is deeper and the light level much dimmer. You will need a tripod and you will need to focus stack and/or exposure bracket.

Of the three, upper Antelope is the prettiest when there are godbeams (Mid-May to July or August, 11:00-12:30). But Upper Antelope is the shortest and most expensive. You don’t get much more than a half hour or so in the canyon. They call it a 90 minute tour but the drive is about 20 minutes each way. Canyon X is also best at noon.

The Lower Antelope tour is longer. It’s cheaper because there are no “prime times”. The best light is early in the morning, not noon. There will not be any godbeams.

I went to Upper and Lower antelope canyon in the 1980s with a few other photographers. The cost was zero and we had the whole place to ourselves for hours.

Do a search for Antelope Canyon Tours or Canyon X tours for pricing.


Those interested in my equipment and recommendations can find it here: Mish’s Equipment List.

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Mike “Mish” Shedlock

7 thoughts on “Upper Antelope Canyon, Page AZ, Godbeams

  1. Your photo is so beautiful! Those colors of the canyon and the light coming through are almost otherworldly! Thank you for sharing!

    1. I was ISO 2500 in some of the other canyons. Also I am very steady. At times, leaned against a wall. Camera capable of 20 Frames Per Second but at 1/10 of a second obviously cannot get that.

  2. Not been to the Wave Yet.
    But want to try. Difficulty is being in person the day before to apply and hoping few others do. Otherwise you need to win a lottery.

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