Slot Canyon Photography – Page, Arizona
Slot canyons are an amazing phenomenon.
Beautifully carved passageways made over the millennia thanks to the nature of water and the wind working through and wearing away sandstone. In general, slots are much deeper than they are wide hence the name. Some can measure less than one yard across while the walls tower over one hundred feet. Open to the sky; light washes through the canyons much the way of the water that came before. And, therein lies our photographic challenge. The dynamic range of the scenes often exceeds the ability of the camera’s single opening aperture. Of course, our eyes with their agile pupils make infinite adjustments as we take in shadow or highlight areas.
HDR to the rescue!
The strata along the walls change from one angle to the next – as a result of thousands of years of wind and water erosion. Add in the light bouncing around, and it makes for excellent photography situations.
When working in high dynamic range situations, I’m looking to be on a tripod and make multiple exposures. In this case, I’m working with a five stop range while shooting in RAW. (depending on the situation I might even go to a seven stop range) This gives me the most opportunity to get each tone of the image exactly as I wish. If I were to try and use one exposure either the highlights would be blown, or I would be dealing with lots of noise from the sensor when trying to pull up detail from the shadow areas.
Aurora HDR software window. Lots of presets available along with tons of control options.
There are many different HDR processing programs available. You can use Photoshop or Lightroom, NIK, Photomatix or others. Each has its benefits and drawbacks. I found a new player on the HDR block for Mac users from MacPhun called Aurora HDR, and I’m enjoying the interface. Lots of control and the ability to create a non-HDR ‘looking’ image that still has lots of punch.
Slot canyons are formed in sandstone and limestone rock. Only a slight number of creeks will form slot canyons due to a combination of the particular characteristics of the rock and regional rainfall.
People in an image like this can add interest. Fellow photographer Bruce Roscoe held the pose for me.
Slots can be found from Arizona to Utah with a few stretching toward New Mexico and California. These images were captured at Secret Canyon near Page, Arizona. Slot Canyon Hummer Adventure Tours is your ‘in’ to the Secret.
Yours in Creative Photography, Bob
PS – Most slot photos are taken in the vertical orientation. I highly recommend looking for a horizontal composition to help set your images apart from other photographers.