Lower Antelope Canyon, AZ
Sadly, the Antelope slots have become such icons that they are more an exercise in frustration than a destination. In 1997 when I first went, there were 2 trucks at Upper; they dropped you off, and if you wanted to stay longer you came back on a later truck. There were no guides, unless you got a guided trip from Page. In awe, I felt I was in a special, sacred place. Few people were there, hardly anyone spoke above a whisper, walking slowly, afraid to disturb the ambience. The incredible striations of the walls, dust particles floated here and there, sometimes being caught and becoming a mote of bright light like a firefly. No one would have dreamed of defacing this beautiful sandstone by making a tag or carving their name. I was fortunate to go a few times over the years, and came to love it in there, and even though they are not that big, I never tired of it.
Well, that's all changed. I counted 8 trucks at Upper, and so many guided trips, even from Flagstaff and Sedona, coming in, there couldn't possibly be time in those narrow chambers to get a good composition. Guides were now required. Time limits strictly enforced. They didn't even want you to bring in a tripod.
I retreated in disgust to Lower Antelope Canyon, where a photographer can still enter unguided. Of course, it costs more, and you pay for extra time spent. And extra time you WILL spend, as the guided groups come through right on top of one another. I spent more time pressed against the wall as body after body passed, getting my exposure set and hoping I'd have time to compose and still do the long exposures before the next group. The sacredness is gone. People have left their names on walls. There is incessant chatter, singing, even flutes and guitars brought in by guides. There's not much time to appreciate the Wonder of these slots, nor do people apparently want you to--you are just holding them up on the way to the other end. I understand the