For virtually every landscape photoshoot we want to know where the sun will be at any given moment. Whether it’s the blue hour, golden hour, sunrise or sunset, we are bound by the sun and if it’s a night shoot, we want to know the phase of the moon and where it will be. And we don’t just want to know it for today, we want to know it days, weeks or months in advance anywhere in the world. And as if that isn’t asking too much, we want this info to be simple to understand and visual. Photographers want to see a depiction of these astronomical facts, not stare at a list of numbers followed by headache-inducing mental contortions. Fortunately, there exists a free computer program that does all of this and more.
The Antelope Canyons in the Page, Arizona area, are hugely popular with photographers, and for good reason. They offer unique opportunities to capture the colors, shapes and textures of the sandstone walls and overhangs. The colors change as the sunlight, filtering down through the narrow slots, changes in angle and intensity. The canyons have become something of a cliché for outdoor photographers, but there’s no escaping their beauty. If you’re in that area, they are definitely worth your time. However, popularity creates problems. Others had warned me how crowded it could be, and I saw them literally trucking in visitors to the Upper Canyon, even in mid-December in sub-freezing weather, so I decided not to shoot there. However, I did enjoy the Lower Antelope Canyon, which is located nearby but is an entirely separate operation. Go about 11 AM for the best light. A two-hour photographer’s pass is $36 (2013) and well worth it. You must show them your DSLR camera and a tripod; a point-and-shoot condemns you to touring with a guide and perhaps 8-10 others, all of whom are getting into each other’s (and your) way. They are strict about the two-hour limit, but that’s enough time if you keep moving.