This first grouping of images are from the beautiful~
Lower Antelope Slot Canyon in Page, Arizona.
The Navajo name for Lower Antelope Canyon is Hasdeztwazi or "Spiral Rock Arches." Many years ago, herds of Pronghorn Antelope roamed freely in and around the canyon, which explains the English name for this canyon.
This incredible canyon has been created over many thousands of years by the relentless forces of water and wind, slowly carving and sculpting the sandstone into forms, textures, and shapes which we observe today. The views in Lower Antelope Canyon change constantly as the sun moves across the sky, filtering lights softly across the stone walls. These ever-moving sun angles bounce light back and forth across the narrow canyon's walls, creating a dazzling display of color, light, and shadow.
There are two entry points into this slot canyon, respectively named the lower and upper entry points; I prefer the lower because "KEN'S TOURS, my personal favorite tour company for the canyon, allows photographers to roam FREELY for two full hours, without the crowding that typically happens during a guided tour. The tours are organized and move brisky through the narrow canyon, so shooting around them is pretty easy. Antelope Canyon is only a few miles from the marinas of beautiful Lake Powell and a short distance from the world renowned majestic Rainbow Bridge Natural Arch and Horseshoe Bend Monuments. The upper and lower entries are only a 1/2 mile from one another. You must make arrangements to enter the upper (last time I checked).. the lower requires no reservation.
Antelope Canyon is located near Page on Navajo Nation land, just outside Glen Canyon National Recreation Area and close to AZ 98 a few miles east of town (at milepost 299).
Despite improved warning and safety systems, the risks of injuries from flash floods still exist in the canyon. Entry is heavily regulated, and is only allowed with proper permits and tour company ID tegs.. most tours take about an hour, photographers are extended 2 full hours.
Lower and Upper Antelope Canyon's are located just a few miles from Page Arizona is LeChee, Arizona on Navajo Indian Land.
In history class in Arizona's high schools much emphsis is placed on the Native Indians and their beginnings in the southwest. We learned of the differences between the tribes; talk of settling the lands and the eventual cause and effect of the reservations in existing as they do today.
The Navajo guides that have taken me into the various canyons always tell of their own families history over the years, and the spiritual light they feel in these slot canyons. I have found the guides to be endearing people and always look forward to interacting with the guides as much as I do shooting the canyon. Over the years these canyons have been commercialized so I have to choose my dates carefully so that I can capture the canyons without 'people walking' through my images. It is getting more and more difficult. I feel humbled to have the imagery I do, I have a feeling the crowds will only continue to grow.
Antelope Canyon is visited exclusively through guided tours, in part because rains during monsoon season can quickly flood the canyon. Rain does not have to fall on or near the Antelope Canyon slots for flash floods to whip through, as rain falling dozens of miles away 'upstream' of the canyons can funnel into them with little prior notice.
I was born and raised in Arizona. I credit my teenage years, and all the complexities of navigating through those years on my eventual kinship with photography. When times were good, and when times we dire I turned to my photography. I'd disappear for a day or two .....or even just a few hours to shoot.
The act of looking through the viewfinder, and actually 'seeing' earth; seeing her shapes and the way the sun cast shadows upon her. Seeing the wind blow through trees and rain that washed yesterdays driftwood down washes during flash floods.... the quiet of those days allowed me to get in my head and listen whether it be to my concious or reason or God.....there was always a voice that helped me through those years when I had my camera in my hand.
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Prior to the installation of metal stairways, visiting the canyon required climbing along pre-installed ladders in certain areas. Even following the installation of stairways, it is a more difficult hike than Upper Antelope—it is longer, narrower in spots, and even footing is not available in all areas. At the end, the climb out requires several flights of stairs.
Despite these limitations, Lower Antelope Canyon draws a considerable number of photographers, though casual sightseers are much less common there than in Upper.
The lower canyon is in the shape of a "V" and shallower than the Upper Antelope. Lighting is better in the early hours and late afternoon.
Lower Antelope Canyon
This capture is my all time favorite capture of the Upper Antelope Canyon. I entered the canyon with a group of photographers from the Vail, Colorado area I enjoy spending time with. Before we entered, we discussed tips on how to best photograph the canyon, dealing with the trickling light, bold at the entry at the high levels and stops as much as 5 to 7 stops along the bottom of the canyon in the deepest regions of the canyon. On this particular day the tour guide told us we could not use our flashes because there were too many people inside the canyon. I had NEVER encountered such a request from a guide. Of course, out of stubborness I continued to try and sneak flash lit captures by hanging to the back of the group but she kept addressing the flash pops. It was so difficult to accept because we had come from so far ----there were no tripods allowed this day either even though we were on a photographic tour -due to the crowds. So here we were in one of the most stunning canyons in the world with no tripods for long exposures, no flash to assist with the very dimly lit canyon.....and literally hundreds of visitors crowding in ---for the first time during any visit to the canyon, i felt like I was in New York City in the morning when many are shoulder to should, elbow to elbow trying to push their way forward.
...the group I was with had great attitudes. We decided to simply put our cameras down and just enjoy a walk through. Our walk into the canyon's depths was beautiful, I actually enjoyed looking at the canyon without the view finder to my eyes----but then out of nowhere a wind storm blew through and there were millions of minut pieces of sand blowing round and round throughout the canyon; it felt like we were being attacked by mosquitos. It was hard to open our eyes because the sand would hit our eyeballs, and scratching our eyelids would potentially cause the sand to scratch our retnas so we felt our way out by placing a hand on the should of the person in front of us; trusting the guide knew where she was going. As we were leaving the cave, I flipped the power from my flash on, and knew the damage and scratches I could be facing on my UV filter not to mention the sand that could lodge into the creaves of my lens, camera, by untucking it from under my jacket where it was fairly protected from flying dust..... I turned and captured this just before leaving the artery leading out of the canyon. It is spectacular in that it looks just like I remember it feeling and that is not always conveyed in an image. The flying dusk didn't reflect my flash pop, the gradual ND filter I threw in front of my lens by holding it dimmed the upper level of the canyon just enough. It was a surprise ---I carefully orchestrate many of my shots, reading the light, wind, shadows, movement of physical elements, but here I took ONE IMAGE, guessing at my settings and nailed it. The sand in the air really helped to highlight the beams of light streaming down into the canyon.
I named this capture Ying & Yang!
The ubiquitous yin-yang symbol holds its roots in Taoism, a Chinese religion and philosophy. The yin, the dark swirl, is associated with shadows, femininity, and the trough of a wave; the yang, the light swirl, represents brightness, passion and growth.
This is a rare slot, not visited by many as it is a private canyon and you must go with a guide who's family has permission to enter. This canyon is located in the area of Antelope but is its own canyon in and of itself and is not attached to the Antelope artery.
Goldfield Ghost Town, Jerome, AZ
Chapel in the Rocks Sedona, Arizona
Designed by Marguerite Brunswig Staude, a student of Frank Lloyd Wright, the Chapel of the Holy Cross was completed in 1956 and is a favorite tourist attraction for many of those who visit Sedona. The Chapel of the Holy Cross was nestled beautifully into a red rock roost that has breathtaking views of the majestic Cathedral Rock, Bell Rock, Courthouse Butte and much of the eastern rim of Sedona.
St Anthony's Monestary, Florence, Arizona
In the summer of 1995 six monks arrived in the southern Arizona desert to establish St. Anthony’s Monastery, carrying with them the sacred, millenial heritage of the Holy Mountain, Athos. Since early Christian history, this steep and rocky peninsula in
northern Greece proved to be a haven for ancient Egyptian, Cappadocian, and Constantinopolitan monastics. Thus, it enjoyed a direct link with the greatest monastic establishments of ancient Christianity, preserving intact the wisdom of the holy fathers and the sacred tradition of the ancient Church. Today, the Holy Mountain consists of 20 independent monasteries, and numerous sketes and hermitages, housing Orthodox Christian monks from all over the world.
The monastery is dedicated to St. Anthony the Great, the father of monasticism, the renowned 3rd century anchorite. There are chapels dedicated to Saints Seraphim of Sarov, Demetrios of Thessalonica, John the Baptist, George the Great Martyr, Nicholas the Wonderworker, and Panteleimon the Healer. The main church is dedicated to Saints Anthony and Nectarios the Wonderworker.
The monastery follows the coenobitic rule of monastic life: abrotherhood of monks and novices holding all things in common follow a daily schedule of prayer and work under obedience to the abbot, their spiritual father. The monks’ daily program begins at midnight with personal prayer time and spiritual reading, followed by the cycle of morning prayers and the Divine Liturgy. After a light breakfast and a rest period, the monks begin their work day, attending to prayer and their tasks till evening. Tasks include, among others, construction, groundskeeping, vinedressing, gardening, woodworking, publishing, food preparation, and offering hospitality. The day ends with evening Vespers followed by dinner and Compline.