I’ve just returned from leading my Northern Arizona Photography Tour for 2013. During this Photography Tour we covered both upper and lower Antelope Canyons, Monument Valley, White Pockets, Horseshoe Bend on the Colorado River, and the Grand Canyon. I must say as much as I love to photograph N AZ, I was extremely tired of the wind that blew from beginning to end at 20+ miles per hour. If fact it almost blew a client off a pinnacle while we were shooting White Pockets!
Day one we headed north from Phoenix to Page. Unfortunately, Highway 89 from Flagstaff to Page where Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend are located was closed at the Marble Canyon junction requiring us to detour. We decided to head for the North Rim of the Grand Canyon for an afternoon shoot. When we reached the turnoff at Jacob’s lake we found that the north rim was still closed, curses foiled again. Improvising, we headed for White Pockets located in the South Coyote Buttes.
Getting to White Pockets requires a one hour four wheel drive ride through deep and shifting red sand. My 4×4 Ford Excursion makes the trip with ease and in comfort. We photographed this spectacular rock formation until dusk. With its curves, colors, and rock formations White Pockets is destined to become a favorite photo location within a few years. In fact, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) who manages the area is considering requiring a permit just like the “Wave” and “Cottonwood Cove”. White Pockets reminds me of the “Wave.” Photographing White Pockets until dusk we finally headed to Page for dinner and bed. Even with the problems we experienced it was a great day.
On day two we headed back to White Pockets for a glorious morning shoot. For the afternoon we photographed Horseshoe Bend on the Colorado River. The parking lot is located about 5 miles south of Page on Highway 89 where you start your hike of about a mile. Going to the “Bend” is not difficult but the hike back is up hill in sand and will test your muscles regardless of what the parking lot signs say. If you are not in reasonable shape don’t do it. At the Horseshoe Bend the photography was wonderful. While shooting the “Bend” you are shooting NW and afternoon shots provide great sunlight on the river. I recommend both a morning and afternoon shoot, 8 to 10am and 4 to 6pm.
On day three we photographed both Upper and Lower Antelope Canyons. These spectacular canyons are cut through sandstone over thousands of years, by rushing water flooding into Lake Powell (on the Colorado River). This geological formation is located in northern Arizona on the Navajo Nation and is one of their tribal parks. We booked with Overland Canyon Tours for a photography tour of Upper Antelope Canyon. A photo tour allowed us two hours of photography during the best time to capture shafts of light and we were allowed to take tripods in with us. The Upper canyon is easy walking from the entrance where you are dropped off. It was breathtaking to say the least. Walking through Lower Antelope Canyon is another proposition altogether. You are required to climb up and down steel ladders throughout the canyon. This portion of the canyon is a moderate to hard walk and climb. As a photography tour we were allowed to stay in the canyon for two hours and guide ourselves. If you can only do one canyon, definitely do the Upper Canyon. Most of the famous slot canyon photographs come from Upper Antelope Canyon. After spending the day shooting both canyons we headed for Monument Valley arriving just in time for the best afternoon light. A photography tour to Monument Valley is a must for the serious photographer. Located in both Arizona and Utah, the Valley is a Navajo Nation Tribal Park. The Valley contains some of the most striking and recognizable sandstone buttes, mesas, monoliths and spires in the southwest.
After a restful night we headed back into the “Monument” for a morning shoot leaving only after the wind blew us out mid-day. From Monument Valley we headed to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. We started shooting at the far east end of the NP and finished the far west end. Using polarized filters and neutral density filters we were able to capture the Canyon beauty where we ended our tour, we were done in and had had enough with a drive back to Tucson still ahead of us.