How to Photograph Antelope Canyon Without a Tripod?

History of Antelope Canyon

Antelope Canyon is east of Page, Arizona, which borders Utah. That belongs to the Luchi branch of the Navajo Nation. He is the largest Native American tribe in the United States. It is easily accessible from Kanab and Moab, Utah, and not far from the Grand Canyon.

Antelope Canyon is simply broken up into three distinctive canyons: Upper Antelope Canyon, Lower Antelope Canyon, and Antelope X Canyon. Each canyon is shared by using a different Navajo family that is allowed to run tours out of it. Upper Antelope is cut up through 5 Navajo families, Lower Antelope is broken up with the aid of two families, and Antelope X is run by one family.

The Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon has been created from hundreds of thousands of years’ worth of water erosion of flash floods going on amidst the Arizona monsoon season.

Since the canyons are positioned within proximity to the Navajo people, they obtained Navajo names. The Navajo title for the Upper Antelope Canyon is “Tse’ bighanilini”, which means “the place where water runs via the rocks”.  Lower Antelope Canyon’s Navajo name is Hazdistazi, which means “spiral rock arches.”

This describes what can be considered these days as the wave-like shape of the rocks. Not solely can the majestic structural formations be admired, but they are more advantageous with the beams of the daylight that seep into the narrow canyon openings. Sandstone’s lustrous red-like shades are highlighted for its spectacular display.

Navajo Nation Requirements

How to Photograph Antelope Canyon Without a Tripod?

Antelope Canyon is positioned in the Navajo Nation and consequently abides absolutely by Navajo legal guidelines and regulations. One of these rules is that you can’t go on Navajo Land except with a nearby (Navajo guide). This ability that solely guided tours of the canyons is allowed.

Be certain to recognize all Navajo Nation regulations and rules as they are kindly permitting our use of their land. It is additionally necessary to be aware that if you are planning on doing business photography, you ought to attain a permit in advance. It is advocated to observe that allow at least one month earlier than your scheduled tour.

Camera Settings for Antelope Canyon


Exposure in such a darkish setting can be tricky. While photographing Antelope Canyon, it is extraordinarily essential to maintain your ISO low which regularly potentially takes longer and longer exposure photos. Exposure needs to be set between -1.0 to +1.0. The exposure and shutter speed both work collectively and are decided through three factors; shutter speed, lens aperture, and scene luminance. It is an essential section of how brilliant or how dark your snapshots will appear.

If you are fortunate adequate to book a photography tour, you will be capable to convey a tripod and take longer exposures and even more than one exposure to stack in post-processing.

If you aren’t on a photography tour, which is the more probable case, then you will now not be capable to take 15-second exposures due to the fact your hand can’t stay flawlessly still.

If you have shaky hands you can also want to shoot in the 15-20 photographs per second range to keep away from blur in your images.


One of the most essential matters to watch out for in your canyon photography is the noise that your image is producing. When taking pictures in low-light situations, frequently pixilation will commence to show up this is known as noise. To keep away from this pixilation, you choose to preserve your ISO as low as possible.

This will fluctuate relying on your manufacturer of digital camera and whether or not the crop sensor is on or if you are capturing with a full-frame. When capturing with a tripod, you can take longer exposures to let in extra light. This means that you can maintain your ISO at a hundred at all times. You have to in no way have to elevate it due to the fact you can alter the lighting fixtures with your exposures.

If you no longer have a tripod with you, there may additionally be instances when you have to raise the ISO in order to seize the favored image. Ideally, your ISO will nevertheless stay beneath 400.


The aperture settings on your digital camera will be extensively exclusive while photographing slot canyon’s instead of broad landscapes. You don’t prefer a narrow field of imaginative and prescient and an extreme bokeh so you will no longer choose to shoot on f/2.8 even though you are capturing in low light. The best aperture setting in the canyon is f/11 due to the fact there is so a good deal of depth that you choose to be in a position to seize in the partitions of the canyon. You desire to be capable to see all of the waves in the partitions in the distance if you are taking pictures with a decreased aperture.

If you are on an images tour of Antelope Canyon, you will be in a position to convey a tripod with you. This will enable you to take longer exposures to even out how darkish capturing at f/11 can be.

Shutter Speed

Set between 1/10 to 1/100-200. Shutter pace or exposure time is the size of time when the film or digital sensor is uncovered to light. The longer the shutter is open the greater light is captured in your photograph.

White Balance

White balance is an interior camera characteristic that permits the digital camera to change the temperature of the light obtained and modify the color balance. It helps make your images warmer or cooler. While this can be carried out in post-processing, if you are now not knowledgeable in that area, it is effortless to truly set your white balance for the correct setting and shoot away.

The best white balance setting from a preset mode is “Shade” due to the fact it brings a warm element to your pictures and takes into account the coloration of the canyon.

If you are setting a customized white balance, then you will desire to be around 5200 as it warms your images. This warmness will assist deliver out the red and orange colors of the canyon walls. Adjust between 4500 and 5500 for blue and purple tones. These would be present in the early morning tours that are supplied in the summer season. You can set between 5500 and 6500 for orange and pink tones. This would observe the famous morning and late afternoon tour times.


Take a Standard lens or wide-angle lens. But, a wide-angle lens is a must when you photograph Antelope Canyon.  Passages are narrow so shooting the astonishing element of the canyon indoors is almost not possible except for one. Again, this will be your desire and choice, however, preserve the idea the Lower Antelope Canyon does no longer allow an interchangeable lens while on tour. Due to the dust and sand that is existing in the Canyon.

Essential Tools for Photographing Antelope Canyon


Tripod can effortlessly match into a messenger or tote bag and is an expert pleasure to constantly have with you. It is pricey, however, that’s due to the fact it’s one of the best. Look for fascinating formations, colors, or angles that trap your eye. This will enable you to seize extra of the canyon. Tripods are indispensable for taking pictures break-of-day and sundown shots.

The perfect tripod will be one that you are acquainted with and that you can set up and tear down quickly. While image excursions do give you greater time in the canyon, the time goes FAST and there is a lot to see. You will want to be in a position to close your tripod up shortly and go to the subsequent location or to permit others to pass.

Camera Body

Any camera body is an exact digital camera body if you understand how to use it. However, your best digital camera body will be one with higher megapixels if you plan on blowing up your picture in a massive print.

Remote Timer

Remote timers are first-rate due to the fact they permit you to shoot photographs while now not touching your camera. This allowed you to take photographs of yourself with digital camera at some stage in your photography tour, and it additionally allowed you to take longer exposure photographs without annoying about the shaking of the digital camera when pressing the shutter button.

Antelope Canyon Photography Tips

  • Don’t hassle with the use of an action digital camera like a GoPro if you’re serious about photographing Antelope Canyon. Anything that can’t cope nicely in low light is going to come out blurry and grainy. A GoPro will crank the ISO and spoil the high-quality of whatever you shoot.
  • Look up. There will be instances where no amount of smoke and mirrors will assist you to keep away from the crowds. Aim your digital camera upwards and you’ll nevertheless discover some extraordinary patterns in the rocks.
  • Details – some of the greatest snapshots of Antelope Canyon that I’ve viewed are closeups. The lovely textures and patterns are attractive in themselves. This is where a 70-200m may prove handy.
  • Avoid capturing the sky if possible. In most instances, it simply makes exposing the snapshots more suitable and greater of a challenge. Work the angles and you’ll locate masses of approaches to use the natural light besides taking pictures of the shiny sky.
  • Don’t attempt to change lenses. With so, an awful lot of chaos and so a great deal of dirt flying, stick with one all spherical lens. You don’t have time to change lenses.
  • Prepare your settings for group shots. There will be several factors where your information may provide to take a photograph for you. If you haven’t figured out the settings before handing it to them (including pre-focusing), you may find yourself disappointed. So, take a test shot of the scene while different people have been posing.

Few other things to be aware of when visiting Antelope Canyon to avoid any unwelcome surprises:

  • Like any different slot canyon, Antelope Canyon is inclined to flash flooding. Consequently, if there are storms in the area tours can also be canceled for your safety.
  • Because Antelope Canyon is so narrow, the property is no longer allowed inside. This consists of digital camera bags, purses, fanny packs, etc.  The motive is the sandstone partitions are smooth and the canyon is crowded, so baggage scraping would ruin the interior.
  • Antelope Canyon and the surrounding slot canyons are home to spiders, snakes, owls, and different wildlife. While seeing them interior isn’t a guarantee, it’s additionally no longer uncommon.  Rest certain your information will get rid of any snakes that may additionally be poisonous, however, be aware and respectful of their home.
  • The ground of Antelope Canyon is sandy and occasionally uneven. For this reason, proper footwear such as sturdy sandals or closed-toe shoes is recommended.
  • Despite at ease temperatures inside Antelope Canyon, it can get a quite toasty outside of it. So convey water with you in the vehicle to remain hydrated earlier than and after the tour.
  • To attain the entrance to Antelope Canyon, you should off-road in a tour vehicle via a dried-up creekbed. Driving there can get surprisingly bumpy (and dusty, if you’re in an open-air vehicle).  It’s now not bad, however simply something to be aware of.
  • Be organized for a lot of people. There are a couple of tour groups with more than one tour organization in the canyon throughout working hours. With this ability the canyon can turn out to be a bit of a crowded mess, so be aware of that going in.

Tips for the Taking the Perfect Shot / How to Photograph Antelope Canyon

Look Up

The slot canyons can be noticeably overwhelming when you first set foot in them. They are so tall and quite slim. The juts and curves in the wall are outstanding to witness, and your idea is spinning with how crazy it is that water triggered all of this. It’s effortless to get caught up in the moment as you are being prodded to cross ahead at a first-rate pace so that your group can get through the entire canyon. It can be convenient to simply appear beforehand and round you and get wrapped up in that beauty.

However, one of the biggest mistakes you can make while photographing Antelope Canyon is to forget to look up. Some of the fantastic views of the canyon aren’t in front of you, however above you. The way the canyon partitions intersect motives notable shadows and depth that are simply begging to be captured with the aid of your camera.

Use the Walls

The partitions are placed however additionally very useful. One of the high-quality methods to get a first-rate perspective or shot is to make use of the wall as the base for your camera. If you set your digital camera towards the wall and appear up, each and every curve in the wall will be seen in your photograph. Don’t be afraid to lean towards the wall to take the best shot! Just don’t climb the walls or do something to jeopardize the environment.

Use Sand

If you are fortunate sufficient to be on a picture tour, then don’t omit the matters you have at your disposal. Sand covers the canyon flooring and additionally affords the best aspect for each lengthy exposure and catching the light. People additionally (carefully) throw sand up in the air to assist seize the light filtering via the canyon. Be positive to ask for your information earlier than doing this, however, it is absolutely really worth trying!

Tour Options for Photographing Antelope Canyon

Each canyon is well-known for its very own particular issue which you need to maintain in thought when selecting a tour! Upper Antelope Canyon is well-known for the way the light filters through the canyon and reasons a splendid glow. Lower Antelope Canyon is well-known for its deep colors that you won’t find a match for in any different slot canyon. Antelope Canyon X is well-known for the way the walls overlap while looking up; at one factor they even make a visible X!


Being capable to photograph Antelope Canyon is a bucket list-worthy experience.  Its striking beauty lives up to the hype and will no longer solely go away with splendid pictures however additionally a massive understanding of nature as well.

So if you’re road-tripping through the American southwest, make positive to add Antelope Canyon to your itinerary!  You won’t be disappointed!

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