Convoluted

An HDR view from Upper Antelope Canyon, near Page (Arizona), converted to black and white:

Convoluted

I’ll be posting a longer comparison of Upper to Lower Antelope Canyon at a later date.  For now, let’s just say that a walk through the Upper Canyon is a crowded experience — even in the “off-season,” even on a “Photo Tour.”  So taking shots facing the sky is a good plan.  In any case, the canyon is a unique experience, and always a reliable source of geological abstracts.

A flower grows in Rock City

Kansas — definitely not the first place that comes to mind when it comes to photogenic geology. But it does have some gems tucked away here and there.

Rock City is a small park about a half-hour’s drive north of Salina, run by a non-profit corporation, and home to hundreds of spherical limestone boulders:

A flower grows in Rock City

Admission costs a mere $3 (cash only), and it’s also got some beautiful local plants and birds — so a great quick side-trip if you’re ever heading through Kansas on I-70.

King’s Throne

Brought to you from the Natural Bridge Caverns, near San Antonio, Texas — it’s the King’s Throne:

King's Throne

Honestly, I’m not sure where they got the “throne” part of this — looks more like a geological Cthulhu to me. Just the same, it’s an impressive formation.

The Natural Bridge Caverns are in the heart of Texas’ “hill country,” essentially an old limestone plateau since shaped into hilly scrublands by underground erosion and subsequent collapse (much like what happened in the northern Yucatán peninsula). These caverns were formed when the water table lowered, and an eroded underground space gradually was decorated by stalactites and stalagmites formed when water percolated through the surviving limestone overhead, carrying minerals (largely calcite) into their new home.

Dolls Theater

A little alcove off the “Big Room” at Carlsbad Caverns, the “Dolls Theater” does not lack in detail or depth.  Should you visit, make sure to take a (small) tripod and cable release — this image was taken at f/18 with a 3.2 second exposure / ISO 400:

Dolls Theater

The King’s Palace

A good demonstration of the color of light, courtesy of Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico:

The King's Palace

This is one of the “marquis” attractions at Carlsbad Caverns, but really doesn’t look this colorful in person (Journey to the Center of the Earth not withstanding).  But it’s lit by spotlights of slightly different color temperature — so if you grab a picture on your visit, and attempt to pick some feature for your white balance, you’ll wind up with this slightly gaudy view in your photo.

Sculptural

Another geological abstract shot from lower Antelope Canyon in Arizona:

Sculptural

If you’re planning a trip to Antelope Canyon and you’re taking a DSLR, you should give some thought in advance to just what lens(es) you should put on your camera body(ies). Fortunately, you’ve got a strong ally in this effort — namely, Flickr.

Before the trip, scan through Antelope Canyon shots that other people have posted to Flickr to find ones you particularly like. Then, when EXIF data is available for the shots, take note of the focal lengths used for the images — this will give you a very good idea of what you want to be taking along on your trip.

In my case, the images I liked best seemed to be taken with focal lengths around 20-30mm (35mm equiv.). So since I have Olympus four-thirds camera bodies (2x crop factor), I aimed for 10-20mm focal lengths in my lenses. So I had a 7-14mm lens on my E-3 body (primary camera) and 14-54mm lens on my E-520 body (backup). Whichever camera wasn’t being used at the time rested in a padded torso pack (ThinkTank Change Up) to protect it from accidental dings. Meanwhile, both camera bodies were outfitted with quick-release plates for my tripod so I could switch back and forth quickly.

Oh, and both camera bodies have lanyards — so whichever one was in use was tethered to my wrist at all times. Particularly important when there’s nothing soft for a camera to land on if you drop it.