philosophy and ethics

Lower Antelope Canyon

Out in the desert, on the border of Arizona and Utah, just outside the town of Page, is one of the most photographed places on Earth, but you could easily miss it.

It's there, somewhere right in front of you, the famous slot canyon - Lower Antelope. But to get down into it you have to walk a little further west from this point, and then down a slope until...

... you arrive at the entrance, where flights of metal steps take you down to the canyon floor. From above ground it looks dark and unpromising. For its magic to work you need to be down there, with daylight shafting down and enhancing the colours of the beautifully eroded sandstone walls. Then it's time to get the camera out, because you can't help but look up. 

As you descend, the sky retreats and you're entering a world that might be familiar if you used the lockscreen image on Windows 10. Just light, sandstone and years of water erosion have created this most remarkable work of art.

As you go deeper, the rocks above you each take on a different colour, from pale orange down to almost purple. It's a world of jagged edges and graceful swirls.

I made the mistake of trying to match the iphone colours when making a large print of this image - but actually it seems better to restrain the tones and print the range of orange colours almost exactly as they appeared on the Nikon RAW file. The colours really are that striking, but vary from moment to moment if there are clouds overhead, as on the day of our visit. In full sun, the rocks simply glow!

Here, unedited, is what the iphone does for colour - slightly more punchy than the Nikon files...

(This image was taken by my wife, Marianne, on an iPhone 8)

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The base of the canyon is filled with sand, to make a pathway on which to walk. In this photo, my wife Marianne stands in one of the wider sections. Elsewhere you need to squeeze yourself past rocks as you make your way gradually upwards.

Be careful of your head! There is a temptation to walk backwards while looking up, but the rocks, which look so light and fluid, are a hard, physical hazard for the unwary..

You just want to stop and gawp, but you know that - due to its extraordinary popularity of this place - the guide will not allow you to linger for too long.