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Old Aug 9, 2012, 11:29 AM   #1
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Default Secret Canyon outside Page, AZ a pictorial tour

In April I went to visit the grand canyon. On a side trip we went to Page, AZ near the Utah border to take a tour of a slot canyon. This place is called Secret Canyon and the tour was a very special part of our trip.


The slot canyon was on Navajo ( or as they call themselves Dine, meaning simply "the people" ) land and only accessable by the tour company we went with which has an agreement with them and part of the tour price went to the Navajo. The tour company takes you out there in Hummers which is kinda fun and they only do small groups with a max of 10 people, on the day we went it was my wife, daughter and I along with one other couple, so a total of 5 people. This allowed plenty of space for photography w/o worrying about getting other people in frame.

All shots were taken with the Olympus E-PL2 with the Panasonic 14mm f2.5 prime lens. I used a monopod extensively to steady my shots and several of the looking up shots were aided by the use of the VF-2 EV-F which allows a 90 degree tilt.

I've organized the shots from the beginning of the canyon to the end. Some shots in the middle were actually taken on the walk back through but my intention with the thread organization was to represent the physical layout of the canyon.

First the entrance with our guide on the left edge of frame. It is around 100 degrees F in the desert and close to noon.


P4232274 by ramcewan, on Flickr

Once inside the 100 degree desert is replaced with a 70 degree natural air conditioning afforded by the deep and narrow canyon which doesn't see much light.

This is looking back towards the entrance


P4232283_1 by ramcewan, on Flickr

looking up


P4232302_1 by ramcewan, on Flickr

around the next corner a beam of light was hitting the floor of the canyon


P4232322 by ramcewan, on Flickr

one of my favorite shots, I printed this at 11x14 and framed it


P4232319 by ramcewan, on Flickr

Looks very narrow in this shot


P4232332_1 by ramcewan, on Flickr

the colors of the rock being illuminated by the bright overhead sun were pretty amazing


P4232334 by ramcewan, on Flickr


another shot looking up


P4232336_1 by ramcewan, on Flickr

in this shot you can see a log wedged in the top from the last time this canyon flooded. Our guide said this happens during their brief spring and summer rainy times when the whole 6 inches they get annually can fall. Since the soild can't hold the water and it tends to come down during big storms the potential for flash flooding is there and a canyon like this can fill up all the way. It is this rushing flood water which carves the amazing swirling walls.


P4232341_1 by ramcewan, on Flickr


this shot shows the striration of the sandstone well


P4232367_1 by ramcewan, on Flickr
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Old Aug 9, 2012, 11:30 AM   #2
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continued from first post...

this shot shows the huge range from the bright sun at the top to the dark bottom of the canyon


P4232375_1 by ramcewan, on Flickr

Looking up again


P4232391_1 by ramcewan, on Flickr

and looking back


P4232410_1 by ramcewan, on Flickr


around each corner held a different view


P4232438_1 by ramcewan, on Flickr

getting near the end


P4232451_1 by ramcewan, on Flickr

and finally at the end looking out to where the canyon widens


P4232349_1 by ramcewan, on Flickr

thanks for looking. comments, questions and critiques welcome
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Old Aug 9, 2012, 1:38 PM   #3
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Wow, just a great series Ramcewan. I bet all of you had a super time. I have been to Antelope canyon and I know slot canyons are a challenge to get right, you did a good job.

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Old Aug 10, 2012, 5:37 PM   #4
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Very nice series! I was going to go there next month but my wife wants to go visit our son in Orange, CA. So this trip is tabled!
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Old Aug 12, 2012, 10:26 AM   #5
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Jjdog2 and wicker

Thanks for looking and your kind words. We did have a wonderful time, in fact I even got a picture of my teenage daughter smiling . Which is a rare occurrence.

Having a fast lens and a support is needed for shooting in low light like this. I had my monopod and many shots were done with a three point support, monopod, me and then I would lean against the wall and hold my breath and click the shutter. The max aperture of 2.5 of the Panasonic 14mm was also very helpful as was the fact it is sharp even wide open. This lens definitely proved its superb value on my trip. I think the Olympus 12mm might have been better but the cost being so high we would have had to hitch hiked our way out there... The 20mm f1.7 probably would have also worked well in this situation but I suspect would have cropped too much out of the vertical shots.

Oh and I will also say that the Olympus iAuto mode was extensively used. Being able to have the camera make the decisions for you sounds uninvolved but in my case being new to the camera it allowed me to be more involved in the aspects a camera can't decide for you, namely composition and solidly supporting the camera. That's not to say I didnt shoot many shots in aperture priority mode or even manual mode but I found many of my favorites came from the iAuto mode. I realize that the folks at Olympus have probably put more camera knowledge into the programming of the mode than I will ever learn and for the most part it works very well except for those rare times where the camera can't figure out what you are trying to do.
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Old Aug 14, 2012, 10:52 PM   #6
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i've been to Antelope Canyon, so these shots have a familiar look... Canyon X? the trouble with the Four Thirds system is that even wide angle lenses lose much of their field of view, and your 14mm offers the same FOV as a 28mm on a full-frame camera. i fought that when i visited Antelope - the 17mm lens i had, on my APS-c body, only gave me the FOV of a 28mm lens, and i really could have used a wider lens. the light is challenging, for sure, but you did quite well given the light and contrast you had to work with!
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Old Aug 15, 2012, 9:21 AM   #7
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Great shots. Thanks for sharing them.
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Old Aug 15, 2012, 9:28 AM   #8
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squirl033 - thanks for looking and your kind words! the canyon is actually called "secret canyon" and is only accessible via the hummer tour company we went through. It is on Navajo land and they have given permission only to this tour company. Because of this it is unlike Antelope canyon in that it is not crowded (or so I have heard about Antelope).

On the four thirds system.. yes any time you want to go wide it can be hard. If you follow mirror-less systems at all you probably saw the new Canon EOS-M announcement and they choose a APS-C sensor (from the new t4i) over the more four thirds like sensor in the G1X. This is surprising because by doing so they need to make the lenses bigger to cover the APS-C sensor, which if you've ever looked at the Sony Nex series lenses you will know requires them to be rather barrel like. It would seem to have made sense to go with the G1X sensor as then you could make fast small lenses like we see in micro four thirds. In the end though I think they went APS-C because it allows them a little extra wideness at the expense of size.

...I have seen some shots with FF cameras of the same canyon that are spectacular and have much more in frame.... but those people were probably carrying about 3x the gear weight of my setup. It's also easier to steady a small camera with a monopod whereas a bigger rig would need a tripod. There was another couple with us on the tour (total 5 people) and the guy had a Canon DSLR and tripod and his setup was at least twice as big bag wise as mine and he definitely couldn't get into the same spots to shoot with the big tripod as I could with my monopod and small camera....

trades off either way... I will point out that I was able to overcome some of the short comings in FOV from the four thirds system using multiple shots stitched together via microsoft ICE (free). Unfortunately I did not try this in the slot canyon



P4232223_stitch 3 by ramcewan, on Flickr

and here is an interactive view

http://photosynth.net/embed.aspx?cid...wPlaying=false



P4221792_stitch by ramcewan, on Flickr

and here is an interactive view

http://photosynth.net/view.aspx?cid=...&p=0:0&t=False
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Last edited by ramcewan; Aug 15, 2012 at 11:35 AM.
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Old Aug 15, 2012, 3:07 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ramcewan View Post
squirl033 - thanks for looking and your kind words! the canyon is actually called "secret canyon" and is only accessible via the hummer tour company we went through. It is on Navajo land and they have given permission only to this tour company. Because of this it is unlike Antelope canyon in that it is not crowded (or so I have heard about Antelope).

On the four thirds system.. yes any time you want to go wide it can be hard. If you follow mirror-less systems at all you probably saw the new Canon EOS-M announcement and they choose a APS-C sensor (from the new t4i) over the more four thirds like sensor in the G1X. This is surprising because by doing so they need to make the lenses bigger to cover the APS-C sensor, which if you've ever looked at the Sony Nex series lenses you will know requires them to be rather barrel like. It would seem to have made sense to go with the G1X sensor as then you could make fast small lenses like we see in micro four thirds. In the end though I think they went APS-C because it allows them a little extra wideness at the expense of size.

...I have seen some shots with FF cameras of the same canyon that are spectacular and have much more in frame.... but those people were probably carrying about 3x the gear weight of my setup. It's also easier to steady a small camera with a monopod whereas a bigger rig would need a tripod. There was another couple with us on the tour (total 5 people) and the guy had a Canon DSLR and tripod and his setup was at least twice as big bag wise as mine and he definitely couldn't get into the same spots to shoot with the big tripod as I could with my monopod and small camera....

trades off either way... I will point out that I was able to overcome some of the short comings in FOV from the four thirds system using multiple shots stitched together via microsoft ICE (free). Unfortunately I did not try this in the slot canyon
yeah, the larger bodies do need larger lenses, and in very cramped quarters i can see the advantage of small! looks like there were lots of places in that canyon where there would't be room for even a compact tripod! i've always wanted to revisit Antelope with a FF body, but that does necessitate a larger kit... Antelope can definitely be crowded (the upper canyon, anyway), but with the right tours, you can get some time in the canyon with very few people. the one i took got us into the canyon by ourselves (12 in the group) for about half an hour before the other tours arrived, and we stayed for a good hour after they left, so i was able to get shots with no people in them...
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