March 2017 print of the month

Upper Antelope Canyon light shaft

The current Antelope Canyon milieu is completely different from when I came here in 2010. (I will post more specifics when I talk about slot canyon I and II projects.) The Upper and Lower Canyons are so well known that there are as many as 12-15+ truckloads of visitors viewing the canyon at any one time. It is essentially now wall-to-wall people.

Upper and Lower Antelope Canyons are on Navajoland and owned by a specific Navajo family. In this case it is one family for each of the Canyons. You cannot view these Canyons without paying a fee to get on Navajoland and a fee for your tour. Navajo inheritance is through the maternal line and respect is one of the most important values to a self-respecting Navajo. SO don’t diss your guide and DON’T go on Navajoland without their permission or permit.

There are two types of tours. One is the tourist tour that lasts about an hour. The other is the photographer’s tours. These last 2 hours and are in the middle of the day when there can be light shafts penetrating the canyons. You must have a guide, and the guides are well aware of the images photographers want to take home, so they will stop the incessant traffic of other visitors long enough to get pictures. AND they will take you to the places that are “time-sensitive”.

One important thing to remember in this mayhem is to listen to your guide. They do this every day and know a lot about the canyon.

All light shafts you may see in Antelope Canyon images are because someone threw sand into the light shaft so you could see it. Unless there is particulate matter in the air, you cannot see the light shafts as clearly as when someone throws sand into the air or when sand is being blown in from above (which plays havoc on your lens as every upward image has sand on the lens.)

This print is from one of several times the guide parted the waters for us and threw sand in the air. In this case I stood off to the right side of the main group of photographers and watched as the light beam slowly narrowed. It was quite a remarkable phenomenon to see the initially wide light beam slowly become more pinpoint over about a 5 minute period of time.

As I was processing the image, I saw what was an encapsulation of all that attracted me to these canyons. It was the movement seen in all the lines in the stone walls of the canyon. There was so much visual movement in so much stillness. The lines were so elegant, organic, and sensual. And there was the light beam illuminating the depths. Movement and illumination were words that came to mind as I developed this image.

This image for me weaves into existence my experience in developing my own personal style, starting with photographing throughout Colorado and the Southwest. It contains memories of the teachings of Alain and Natalie Briot, stories they have told of their years living among the Navajo, and several ventures into Upper and Lower Antelope Canyons. What it means to you is for you to decide…

It is for me a fitting beginning for the print of the month collection.

March 2017 print of the month

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