Monday, 29 April 2013

Arizona slot canyons #2 Rattlesnake Canyon

Antelope Canyon is what everyone has heard of, but Rattlesnake Canyon is actually more gorgeous - it's an artist's dream.  But it is not as accessible -  it is on multi-levels, visitors have to climb up and down ladders, which is why the Navajos didn't promote it except for small parties.  

You can judge for yourself based on the photos below.

Entrance to Rattlesnake canyon

The first of many sand "sculptures"

You have to go under this arch
Squeeze through this narrow opening - like a rattlesnake
And it gets tighter...
and tighter...

But then look up and gawk - at the sculptures and paintings on the walls 

I'm at a loss for words to describe these... 

Picture yourself a snake wiggling through this

Towards the light

Climbing down is harder than climbing up - unless you're a snake, of course

And you're back into the world, sort of - it's still very remote.
You pinch yourself to see if you were dreaming...

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Arizona Slot Canyons - #1 Owl Canyon

The red sandstone slot canyons near Page, Arizona, are some of the most photogenic in the world.  We visited five of them in one day with a Navajo guide - the only way to visit, as all five canyons are on Navajo land.  We started at 9 am and finished very close to 5 - a long day, but exciting as all five canyons are different and beautiful in their own way.

The first canyon we visited was Owl Canyon - the widest, the most open and easiest to access.  We were the only ones there that morning, so we took our time warming up our cameras, picking up the particular technique needed to photograph these red sandstone canyons.  Our guide, a photographer himself, taught us the best way to bring out the red sandstone is to make sure we cut out the sky from our photos.  True enough, the moment we included a patch of sky, the sandstone would look washed out.  You won't see much sky in the pictures below except for the entrance shot.  

Entrance to Owl Canyon

You can see the difference in colours here when the sky was included and when it wasn't.

I wouldn't be able to capture this shot of the canyon's namesake if I didn't have my 18 - 200mm zoom (it's maxed out at 200mm).  It was high above us near the top of the canyon.  Our Navajo friend didn't want to look at it even though he pointed it out to us.  It was supposed to be bad luck if the owl's evil eyes caught you in its gaze.  As you can see here, its eyes were closed, so we were quite safe...

The contrasting shades were just sunlight playing tricks

There were still some tight spots even though this is the widest canyon

A closeup of some of the sandstone - some were pock-marked but some were smooth

An overhang was used to block out the sun to produce the right light for the camera

Plenty of these swirls everywhere - imagine the water whirling through

Yes, incredible!  These smokestacks greeted us at the exit of the canyon.  They are from the power generation station - a coal plant, believe it or not, right beside the hydro plant near the Lake Powell dam.

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Spring in the ravine

Two weeks ago when we did our spring walk at Too Good Pond, the only visible signs of spring are the courting geese and ducks.   Today, we can see the first buds.  And of course, further south downtown, the crocuses are already in bloom.  It's when you really have to look for it that made the first signs of spring so precious.

Even the algae are budding!

Just the faintest touch of green!