Lower Antelope Canyon

Photographed 9/11/2011
Photographer: David Arnspiger

My good friend Seth Grenald had made a previous journey to the Antelope Canyon area. He had told me about it during numerous conversations, and suggested that we take a trip together to photograph it. We set it up for September of 2011 and headed out from LA to Page, Arizona.

Now, the first thing you see as you get to the entrance of Lower Antelope Canyon is a memorial to a group of people killed recently in a flash flood in the canyon. A terrible tragedy. If you will notice in the first couple of shots below, in the distant background you can see a thunderstorm. We discussed the risk, and decided it was far off enough for us to proceed.

After just a few minutes down in the canyon, that same storm had rolled on top of us and we were feeling rain in the canyon. More on that in a bit.

The canyon entrance is the crack in the ground in the 4th image below. You squeeze into it and drop down into a cavern carved over thousands of years by water. It is an amazing place, and well worth a visit if you find yourself in that part of the world.

Seth and I spent the better part of an hour shooting in various locations and trying to get awesome shots of the beautifully carved walls. This was my first time trying to shoot something like this, and while I feel I got cool images, I think I could have gotten much better images with some advance study and prep. I really want to go back again someday.

A tip to know about shooting down in the lower canyon is this. There is fine red sand falling constantly. If you intend to change lenses while you are down there, say goodbye to the guts of your camera. Go down with the lenses you want to use already on your camera. Everything I had with me had find sand in it later and it took hours to get everything clean. Be prepared.

So back to my story about the rain. I am not a fan of thunder and lightning when it is right on top of me. It's fun to photograph lightning, but I prefer some distance. In this case, my fear of a flash flood kicked in and a major case of chickenshit drove me to start moving to the exit as fast as I could so I could get out of there. Seth was less concerned and lagged behind, but I think my fear caused him to cut his shoot time short.

I got to the end of the canyon and was faced with a new dilemma. You start the voyage a mere 6 feet underground, but once you get to the far end of the canyon you are over 100 feet below ground, and the only way out is a steel ladder to the top. In a thunderstorm!

Now I should say that my fear of the situation made things seem much worse than they actually were. I was in a frenzy and I needed to get to my car. So I sucked it up, climbed the ladder and ended up on top of a small mesa, under the gray clouds and letting my mind think the worst. I was able to calm myself enough to wait for Seth to climb up the ladder and snap a few pics of him, but as soon as that was done I hauled ass for the car to get out of the perceived danger. What a weenie.

Enjoy the pictures below.