the blog of Seldom Seen Photography

Planning, planning

Fiery Furnace and the La SalsThis September, Tanya and I are planning to take a trip to Utah and Arizona. The American Southwest is one of my favorite places in the world. It combines the best of my two passions: photography and geology. And though I’ve been to the Southwest perhaps twenty times or more, on this upcoming trip, we are planning on going to some places I’ve never been before, including Monument Valley, Canyon de Chelly, and the north rim of the Grand Canyon.

We will probably also go to Antelope Canyon as well, since I’ve never been there and it is one of the top photographic destinations in the world. I’m just a bit wary about how crowded and commercial it has become (see this blog by photographer Stephen Penland). If any of you have gone to Antelope Canyon, please let me know what you think.

I enjoy planning for trips such as this, reading guidebooks, looking at maps, making internet searches, and thinking of photographic possibilities. This year, the planning started perhaps a bit early because I wanted to get a permit to the Wave. You need a permit to hike into the Wave, and there are only permits for 20 people per day. There is a lottery for 10 daily slots on the internet four months ahead of your visit. Thus Tanya and I put in our lottery applications last month, and we were not chosen. The other 10 daily spots are given out by in-person lottery the day before your visit at the ranger station in Kanab, Utah. Right now I’m not planning on trying for two of these permits as we will be traveling to the Paria area (in which the Wave is located) from the other direction (from Page and not from Kanab). So, the Wave may have to wait for some other trip. But with so many other great photographic locations waiting in the area, I’m not too upset.

Our first stop of the trip will be Arches National Park outside Moab, Utah. I have been there perhaps four or five times before, but the last time was nine years ago. It’s certainly time for a visit again. The photo above was from that trip to Arches in 2005. I hope to get some great light like this again, in  fact, I’m planning on it!



11 responses

  1. Can’t wait to see some images from your trip Joe. Best of luck on getting that permit too…. keep us posted!

    June 22, 2014 at 5:41 pm

  2. PS – we found some fine light up at Hurricane Ridge a couple of weeks ago. Check out some of my shots on the flickr site.

    June 22, 2014 at 5:42 pm

    • Hi Ernie, I will check out your Flickr page. BTW, nice baby mountain goat photo in the Tacoma News Tribune the other day!

      June 22, 2014 at 7:33 pm

  3. rcisternas

    Dear Joe,

    Yes, Antelope Canyon is quite commercialized. You must get tickets in advance and you must get tickets for the photo excursions not the regular excursions. This is so because you will get extra time in the Canyon to set up your tripod and will not be rushed through its length. Beware of a couple of things. First, the ride to the Canyon is on flatbed trucks with seating on the back. The trucks are covered with tarps but it can get dusty. Keep all your camera and lenses fully covered during the trip. Tipping the guides is mandatory. Also, you must book a trip around noon if you want to see the light streaming down the canyon. I would recommend you visit Lower Antelope Canyon as well on your own since it is not as touristy and it will give you different perspectives (I did not have a chance but I would have wanted to). The picture below is one of my HDR shots in Upper Antelope Canyon. I went with the regular tour (the photo tour had sold out) so all my pictures were hand-held.

    If you go all the way to Monument Valley, consider driving to Mexican Hat. The rock formation that gives the hamlet its name is interesting, but the erosion pattern on the hillside is one of a kind. (see below — that is not my picture).

    Have a great trip,


    June 22, 2014 at 5:46 pm

    • Ricardo, thank you for all the information. My plan is to drive down from Arches to Monument Valley, I believe Mexican Hat is on the way (or not far off the way). I had already decided to go to Lower Antelope Canyon, my questioning is about the upper one. Thanks for the advice on the trucks and dust.

      BTW, your photos didn’t get attached to your comment. Perhaps you can give a link instead?

      June 22, 2014 at 7:30 pm

  4. Sound amazing! Have a great time!

    June 22, 2014 at 6:01 pm

  5. Reblogged this on theowlladyblog.

    June 23, 2014 at 11:37 am

  6. Hello Joe,

    Great photo for starters! When I visited the Southwest a couple of years ago, we were one of the lucky 10 that morning who got a place to go to the Wave and that was something very special to experience and see and if you don´t get the ´tickets´ there are lots of options in the surrounding area to go to. We did also visit both Antelope Canyons and although interesting it was definitely way too crowded in there, almost the opposite of being alone in hiking to the Wave and spending some time in that area, so photogenic too!
    well, hope you have a great trip and looking forward to your findings and photos
    Greetings, Ron.

    June 24, 2014 at 12:06 am

    • Thanks Ron. I’ve been investigating some places to visit near the Wave, and will undoubtedly have a great time even if not making it to the Wave. I’ve been thinking the difference between the Wave and Antelope Canyon, on how both are world-class photographic destinations, and how the two controlling bodies – the US government and the Navajo Nation – have developed different models of control. Though I didn’t win the Wave lottery, I think I prefer that method. I’ve been thinking I will go to Antelope Canyon just to say I’ve been there and photographed it, but afterwards enjoy several days of (hopefully) much greater solitude (10s of people rather than 100s?) when exploring the Paria area.

      June 24, 2014 at 12:19 pm

  7. Such gorgeous photos. I haven’t been out West in years and you make me miss it. Thanks.

    August 9, 2014 at 8:37 pm

  8. Reblogged this on Kuba Kosy.

    August 17, 2014 at 4:30 am

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