At the end of November I took a road trip to shoot at Antelope Canyon in northern Arizona. It's a place that I've wanted to photograph for a long time and I wanted to shoot some new things that would make me work in natural light, focusing on form and composition rather than having control of a situation like when I shoot portraits.
To shoot in Antelope Canyon you are required to be with a guide and most "photo tours" are booked months in advance. I had a free weekend coming up and starting e-mailing and calling companies to see if there was anything that had come open. With some luck, I was able to get in touch with a company that actually had an opening. After I got off the phone I packed up my car and hit the road.
The reservation was a few days out so I decided I would hit up Monument Valley on the way as a small side trip and camp there. I intended on shooting some landscapes on the trip down but I ended up driving through pouring rain and pretty dark conditions. The "highways" were also quite narrow and I didn't think it would be the greatest idea to stop on the side of them to get soaked, so I continued on to Monument Valley.
As I reached the Arizona/Utah border the rain let up a bit and I stopped for a few photos before making my way to the campground in the valley. Once I got there and found a spot I had only a few minutes to get my tent up and gear covered before the rain began again. It was an absolute downpour that caused flash flooding in the valley and made quite the mess out of the hillside campground. There was so much rain battering my tent that it actually began to soak through the tent and rain fly. Thankfully, I keep camp towels in my photo bag to keep my lenses dry and I was able to use them to continually soak up the water and wring them out.
The next morning was super cloudy still form the storm, but I ventured out in hopes that it would bring some great colors to the sky...assuming the sun could break through. Thankfully it did and I was rewarded with some beautiful colors as well.
After breaking down my camp and getting some breakfast I set out on the 17-mile long loop throughout the valley, stopping more times than I can remember, and photographed some of the features and views. There were a few spots that water was still standing from the storm and I found a few to use for some great reflections.
After a long day, I finished the drive and came back to set up camp again. I decided that I didn't want the same sunset photograph that most people have (there were literally over a hundred people photographing the sunset from the visitor center/hotel), I drove back out into the valley. I stopped and asked one of the local jewelry makers where he thought the sunset looked the best and I ended up driving out to John Ford's point where I had been earlier in the day. I shot there until the colors began to really change and then I drove back out in a hurry, stopping in a few places I had my mind on from earlier in the day.
I photographed the stars for a bit before getting some sleep so I could be up early for the sunrise. I wanted to shoot it differently than I had the previous day and had a spot in mind. I headed up towards the visitor center and hotel and found the two large boulders that many photographers include in their photos. Instead of shooting that photo I was able to wedge between them and find an angle that included them and also the more prominent rock features in the park as well. There were quite a few of other people there to take pictures of the sunrise, many looking at me like was crazy crawling between the boulders with my tripod and camera, but I think it was worth it.
Once I was done there I packed up and hit the road for Page, Arizona, and Antelope Canyon.