Now that 2012 is underway, it’s time to take a look back at a few favorite photos from 2011. The highlights of my year included two trips with my husband, one to the Southwestern US and one to Puerto Rico. Both were new experiences for us, and both left us wanting more. My favorite photos from the Southwest are by far those from Antelope Canyon. While not the most serene to actually visit thanks to the many tourists and photographers, the photos from that visit amaze me every time I look at them. The expanse of the Grand Canyon was breathtaking, and I was really surprised by all of the trees and the surrounding forest. I’d always imagined the surrounding area to be desolate.
While the Grand Canyon was on my bucket list, I must say that I fell in love with Bryce Canyon. The intense colors of the hoodoos against the blue sky was simply beautiful, but the most memorable was the quiet serenity of our day there. We’ll be back for sure with much more time to explore. On a completely different note, Puerto Rico was a fantastic getaway, and surprisingly easy to get to. The ability to be in 2500 feet of crystal clear water in only a 20-minute boat ride was amazing! My favorite spots were the rain forest at El Yunque and streets of Old San Juan with the beautiful architecture and brilliant colors.
As usual, it was hard to narrow my favorite photos down to only ten this year. There isn’t really any rhyme or reason for why these photos are my favorites, but there is something about each one that I love. Enjoy the photos and have a wonderful 2012!
As I’ve previously mentioned, Upper Antelope Canyon is a slot canyon created by water eroding the walls of the sandstone. From the ground above, the canyon looks like a large crack, or slot in the earth and things can easily fall down into the canyon. Throughout our tour we saw various tree limbs and tumbleweeds seemingly stuck between the walls of the canyon. This tumbleweed wedged between the canyon walls got my attention because of the contrast between it and the smooth canyon walls holding it in place.
Slot canyons are formed by erosion from rain water over many years. During the monsoon season especially, flash floods can be created with less than an inch of rain and can quickly turn into feet of water rushing through the sandstone walls of the canyon. This process has eroded away the sandstone and smoothed the walls over hundreds of years to create the beautiful slot canyons we see today. In this photo of Upper Antelope Canyon you can see the layers of sandstone reaching from floor to ceiling smoothed by the water into beautiful curves.
As I mentioned previously, the intense light shafts that shine through the open slots into Upper Antelope Canyon are a major draw in the summer. As incredible it was to see the light shafts for those fleeting moments, I really enjoyed my time in the slot canyon after the sun angle changed a bit and they were gone. With a lower sun angle, the light was more even and started to reflect off of the walls revealing truly beautiful colors. This shot is from one of my favorite locations in Upper Antelope Canyon, very close to the entrance. The reflected light really shows off the curves and lines of the walls as well as the colors and patterns of the sandstone.
Upper Antelope Canyon is one of the most popular slot canyons in the world, in part due to the incredible beams of light that shine through the openings above. Only when the sun is very high in the sky during the summer months does this happen, and even then, the light shafts only last a few minutes at a time. Sand is thrown towards the light and a fine dust lingers in the air to help illuminate the light shaft.
Even with the intense light, long exposures are necessary because the canyon is still rather dark. With any low lighting situation, a tripod and remote cable are a must and because it takes some time to get properly set up, timing is everything. We were very fortunate to have a seasoned tour guide that knew where the light shafts would appear almost to the minute, giving us time to get set up and ensure plenty of time for great shots.
I’ve never been anywhere as dusty as Antelope Canyon. I was lucky enough to visit this remote slot canyon a few weeks ago with my husband. Located on Navajo land near Page, Arizona, the canyon is only accessible via four-wheeled vehicle, and you must be accompanied by an approved Navajo tour guide. We chose to go in the summer when the sun shines through the open slots above creating amazing light beams inside the slot canyon.
What you may not be able to tell through the photos is that in order to get those light shafts to show up, sand is thrown towards the light shaft and a fine dust is suspended in the air for a few moments really showing off the light. After two hours in the canyon with sand thrown into the air often, we felt like Chinchillas that had taken a dust bath! This photo shows one of the famous light shafts in the distance with some previously thrown sand falling off of the rock in the foreground. The end result is worth it, and it’s an experience I’ll never forget!