Upper Antelope Swirl
There are numerous slot canyons around Page, Arizona, though none as famous or visited as Upper Antelope Canyon. It’s easy to understand why so many people visit this incredible geological formation: the lines, colors, shapes, size and scope of the canyon are incredible. I had the chance to visit it in December 2013, during the low season. I can’t imagine visiting it during the peak season when hundreds of people stream through the canyon entrance, almost like the floor and onrush of water that forged this canyon over millennium. During the peak season, I’ve been told, the people squeeze in like sardines, and the photographers are lined up tripod to tripod, all trying to catch a glimpse of the famous sunbeams that stream in from the narrow openings above.
Putting myself into such a situation isn’t my style, so I choose to visit the canyons in the cold of winter, and I was rewarded for my willingness to brave the cold. No, I didn’t get to see the famous sunbeam in Upper Antelope Canyon, but instead of sharing the canyon with hundreds of other people—which would make a tripod nearly useless—I shared the canyon with no more than five other people. A trade off I’ll gladly make any day of the week.
The lack of people meant I wasn’t rushed and didn’t have to worry about being in the way of other photographers, or of having people get in the way of my photography. I had the time and space to explore the canyon in its entirety, and then slowly work my way through it, capturing the colors and lines that make this place so special. It wasn’t hard to capture these special views: wherever I looked, I could see a great image in my mind. The hardest part was the sore neck that resulted from spending several hours looking almost straight up.
While pictures can show much of the majesty that are the slot canyons near Page, they really need to be seen in person to fully appreciate. Just standing in the middle of one of these canyons, knowing that eons worth of rushing water was required to create it—-and that the onslaught of water continues to shape the canyons today—is a humbling experience. Then, when one sees the unique shapes, lines, curves, colors and hues that are highlighted by the light streaming in from above, it’s easy be emotionally moved in such a setting.
This specific image captured my attention given the way the lines swirled around the frame. The lines lead the eye throughout the scene, and the light softly highlights the soft curvature that was created by what I can only imagine was swirling water. But, why was one piece of rock left stickup out like a peninsula? How has it survived the ages without having its sandstone washed away by the torrent of water that comes through here on a regular basis? And, how much longer will it survive?