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Antelope Canyon for Amateurs: Photography Tips

Antelope Canyon for Amateurs: Photography Tips

Antelope Canyon in Arizona is routinely recognized as one of the most photogenic spots in America. Getting great pictures of this place is no easy feat. The dim lighting and ever present crowds are among the top challenges. Luckily, the latter can be solved by booking a photography tour, where the guides clear out the canyons so you can get dozens of people-free shots. The lighting, however, presents a challenge to even experienced photographers.

If you, like me, are an amateur photographer that is intent on capturing great photographs that you’ll cherish for years, these tips will help you be [a little more] prepared for your Antelope Canyon experience.

Leverage the guides’ expertise

The guides are not just your source of knowledge about the canyon history and environment. If you book with Adventurous Antelope Canyon, the guides are photographers themselves. They are there to help you with your camera settings and to get the perfect shot. They know the best settings for the dim, challenging space, and will tell you their recommended settings before you enter the canyon (likely a shutter speed between 2 and 6 seconds, and aperture between F11 and F18 ). Don’t be afraid to ask for help, even if nobody else is.

Know HOW to set change your manual camera settings (even if you don’t know what settings to pick)

When you ask for help, your guide will quickly rush over and take charge of setting your camera to the best settings for the specific room. That being said, it’s important that you know HOW to change your camera’s manual settings (for the shutter speed, aperture, and ISO).  If you don’t know how to change these settings, spend an hour the evening before your tour skimming your camera’s manual or watching YouTube videos.

Know your tripod

You only get a couple minutes of people free pictures in each room in the canyon, so you don’t want to waste precious time messing around with your tripod. Make sure you know how to quickly set it up (change the height, move your camera from landscape to portrait, attach and detach your camera, etc.). You will be VERY close to the photographers next to you, so knowing how to quickly maneuver your equipment is not only important for your shots, but a courtesy to your neighbors.

Don’t rule out auto settings

Your guides and very experienced photographers on the tour will basically shun those who use auto settings from the get go. However, I took plenty of shots on auto that turned out well. I found it helpful to take about half of my shots in manual, an half in auto. The tones of the rock looked distinctly different between the settings, so I could pick what I liked best after the fact. Take a few photos and videos on your phone, too.

Don’t expect to get pictures of yourself

Unfortunately, the Antelope Canyon photography tour is not your chance for a portrait session. People pay for people free pictures, and will likely be annoyed if you compromise their shots by trying to pose in the open space. Luckily, there’s an unnamed canyon near Upper Antelope Canyon that is basically deserted, with the same curved rock features and more natural light. Ask your guides to stop by for a few selfies.

Look around

Last but not least, don’t forget to actually look around at the amazing canyon. It truly feels like another world. Only looking at it through your viewfinder is a shame. Mental pictures might not last as long, but they’re more meaningful in the moment.

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