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Antelope Canyon Photography Tips

Last Update on November 30, 2023
by Sunny Samaroo
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Looking for Antelope Canyon photography tips for your upcoming trip? This attraction is one of the most photographed slot canyons in the world — for good reason! The interplay of the colorful canyon walls and the light beams that filter through is straight out of a painting.

From the pages of National Geographic to scenes from popular movies, it’s guaranteed that you’ve seen photos of Antelope Canyon. 

When you take the best Antelope Canyon tour, you’ll want some photography tips to make sure you’re getting the perfect shot to add to your photo album. We've been facilitating tours to Antelope Canyon for years, so here are our top Antelope Canyon photography tips.

View of Antelope Canyon
Antelope Canyon is filled with interesting sights formed from the rocks interacting with light, like this one: Dragon's Eye.

Smartphone Tips

Outside of some very specific circumstances, an iPhone or top-of-the-line Android phone will take outstanding photos, no matter where you are. To get the most out of your smartphone, though, there are a few things you can do to help ensure you get the best possible photos. 

Before we get started, it’s important to understand that the biggest challenge for photography of the canyon is lighting. Because the canyon is so narrow, good lighting is tough to find because the sun isn’t always shining directly into the canyon; this may lead to your photos being under or over-exposed as lighting may be completely different in different parts of the shot. 

Hold Steady

Unless you’re visiting the canyon at high noon when the light shines directly down into the canyon, you’ll likely be facing low-light conditions in some areas. While smartphones still struggle a bit in low light, they get better and better each year. 

To help minimize pixelation and blurring, we recommend that you hold your phone as steady as possible, use a tripod, or brace it against something while shooting a photo.

Stay at the Back of the Tour Group

Nobody back home wants to see the back of some random person's head in your canyon photos. 

Though it may seem counterintuitive, the best way to avoid this is to linger at the back of the tour and let others go ahead of you. Once those who brought their kiddos have gone ahead and rounded the next bend, it will be a perfect opportunity for a shot of an empty canyon. This is the view nature intended with its explosions of color. 

Use Low-Light or Night Mode

Depending on your phone, there is a camera setting known as low-light or night mode. This fully opens the camera’s sensors and shutters to allow as much light as possible into the image. It's a useful photography trick for early-morning or late-afternoon visitors to the canyon. 

Be careful not to use this setting at midday, though, as it will cause your photos to wash out with too much light. 

Choose a Focus Point

Using your finger to select a point in the photo to focus on will allow you to see how the camera handles lighting in different ways. 

For shots in mixed lighting, be sure to tap around the screen to see which one you think looks best, or shoot a bunch of photos with several different focus spots and decide later which one you like most. 

View of Antelope Canyon
Even in low-light conditions, Antelope Canyon can look stunning in photos.

Professional Camera Tips

Though a smartphone is sufficient, a professional camera is no doubt your best option when it comes to photographing Antelope Canyon. If you're a photography newbie or you've never shot in an environment like Antelope Canyon, here are some tips for capturing the beauty of the canyon.

Opt for ISO

ISO is a lighting setting on cameras. A low ISO value means less sensitivity to light, while a higher ISO means more sensitivity. 

You're going to wear out your ISO button with all the opportunities to take mixed-lighting shots. An extremely low ISO long exposure can provide some interesting ghostly traces of people as they make their way through the canyon. 

Keep Your Lens Cap On

Dust frequently falls from the desert above into the canyon and there's plenty of fine sand to be found everywhere. We don’t need to tell you what this can do to finely-tuned camera equipment.

It’s best to keep your dust covers and lens caps firmly on the camera and only take them off when you are taking a picture. 

Bring Your Best Telephoto Lens

The canyon isn’t the only thing to see. Bring along your best telephoto or longshot lenses for some fantastic shots of the spectacular scenery surrounding the canyon.

Of course, for the best photo-ops on a canyon tour, be sure to choose a trip with MaxTour. Our experienced guides will help make sure you get the best photos possible at every stop along the journey!

View of Antelope Canyon
The colors of Antelope Canyon range from gold and brown to orange and red — even pink!

General Antelope Canyon Photography Tips

Beyond the actual process of taking photos, there are some important tips to keep in mind if you want to be on your photography A-game while at Antelope Canyon.

Know the Best Time to Visit

Antelope Canyon is beautiful all year round, but certain times of year are better for capturing the famous light beams. To be specific, you're most likely to see light beams from late morning to early afternoon. Even if you don't get to see light beams, this is when you'll have the best lighting. 

As for the time of year, April to October is a safe bet, with the summer months of June, July, and August being the best.

Decide Which Section of the Canyon to Visit

Antelope Canyon is divided into two main sections: Lower Antelope Canyon and Upper Antelope Canyon

Lower Antelope Canyon is narrower, a bit longer, and has more uneven terrain. It's the less popular of the two but is still very popular. It's more suitable for adventurers, and it's the section we visit on our Antelope Canyon tours from Las Vegas.

On the other hand, Upper Antelope Canyon is the more popular of the two. It's more accessible to those with mobility issues, as it's completely at ground level (unlike Lower Antelope Canyon which requires some climbing). You're also more likely to see light beams at Upper Antelope Canyon.

Related Reading: How Difficult are the Lower Antelope Canyon Stairs? 

Know the Rules Around Carrying Equipment

Due to Antelope Canyon's delicate, narrow hallways, you can't just carry anything you'd like on your tour. 

At Upper Antelope Canyon, some tour operators allow you to carry a bag, while others don't. 

At Lower Antelope Canyon, you can't carry any bags — not even a camera bag — just your phone, camera, and a water bottle or hydration pack. As such, photography at Lower Antelope Canyon could be a bit trickier.

View of Antelope Canyon
Most photographers at Antelope Canyon seek out the canyon's famed light beams.

The Bottom Line

It's not hard to get good photos of Antelope Canyon, but getting truly great photos takes some skill and dedication. With these tips in mind, you'll be taking National Geographic-level Antelope Canyon photos in no time!

Wondering if Lower Antelope Canyon is good for children? We’ve got you covered — check out our latest posts.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sunny Samaroo

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