Bryce, Antelope Canyon and Monument Valley in November?

anonymouscubananonymouscuban Inner Tube PilotPorter Ranch, CaliforniaPosts: 4,586Registered Users, Retired Mod Major grins

Wife and I will be doing a road trip in late November. Our plan is to hit Bryce Canyon then head over to Page to see Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend. From there we will head to Monument Valley. We plan to stay a couple days at each place. We will be traveling in a Jucy Van (van conversion) so staying at campgrounds.

This trip's primary goal is photography. My wife doesn't shoot but will tag along with me. I've done a bit of research on each location but wanted to see what you all have to say about some specifics, especially in late November. Much of the information available are for visiting during the summer.

Here are some specific questions I have:

  1. We plan to be in each place for at least one sunrise and sunset. Any specific spots that are a must to photograph for each?
  2. As I understand, the light beams don't happen this time of year at Antelope. Is this correct?
  3. Should I do Lower canyon, Upper canyon or both? Time of day for each?
  4. Are there any recommendation for campgrounds in Bryce or Page?
  5. Any recommended Tour Guides for Monument Valley?
  6. Any other information you guys think will be helpful?

Thanks all. Really appreciate any help you guys can provide.

Alex

"I'm not yelling. I'm Cuban. That's how we talk."

Moderator of the People and Go Figure forums

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Comments

  • anonymouscubananonymouscuban Inner Tube Pilot Porter Ranch, CaliforniaPosts: 4,586Registered Users, Retired Mod Major grins

    @pathfinder said:
    Hi Alex. I can answer a couple questions for you.

    The sun will not shine directly into Antelope this time of year, or that is what I was told when I was out there. Even in the summer time, you need to be there around the middle go the day when the sun is most overhead. But you still can get some great images without light beams - all you need is some light inside the canyon. I would plan on doing both Upper and Lower Antelope as they both are lovely. I cannot tell you what time is best in November, but I do know you want the sun high in the sky I think. I was in Upper and Lower Antelope in 2006 on different days - https://pathfinder.smugmug.com/Travel/Bryce-Zion-Monument-Valley-May/i-dRqzwGn

    Cool. I know the Upper Canyon is more popular than the Lower. I am planning to do both. I will make sure we are there when the sun is overhead to get some light play off the canyon walls. Pretty excited about the possibilities.

    I used Dan Chee as a guide when I shot Monument Valley years ago, but he is no longer working I believe. If you just pull into the Visitor Center Parking lot you will find lots of folks who are guides and most are fairly decent.

    Mylo Fowler is a Navaho native landscape photographer, and a friend. He does great workshops ( you can find him on the web or FB ) but does not specifically guide at Monument Valley. I shot Hunt's Mesa over a weekend with him several years ago. He might be willing to guide if given enough time in advance, but he will be more expensive than the guides at the visitor center. Mylo used to live in Page Az, but now lives in Sandy, Utah. A quick search of Mylo Fowler -> https://duckduckgo.com/?q=Mylo+Fowler+workshops&t=hg&ia=web He has some nice Youtube videos as well, he plays a nice Indian flute too.

    I found this resource on the web for Monument Valley guides - Navaho Spirit Tours - http://www.navajospirittours.com/hunts-mesa It sounds quite interesting, they seem knowledgeable for a photographer's needs, and they offer tours of Monument Valley, Mystery Valley, Tear Drop Arch and Hunt's Mesa, and their fees seem reasonable. I don't know what your budget for guides is, but they can vary a bit. You will want to talk to your guides in advance to discuss sun rise and sunset shooting as well as night and star shots.. This should help you get a feel for the services the guides will offer and if they will meet your needs. They all have cell phones now. Ten years ago they could be hard to get on the phone due to limited service.

    I will give that site a check. I've read from several sources that it's pretty easy to find a guide in Monument Valley. My current plan is to make it to MV well before sunset. Get the lay of the land and prepare to shoot sunset that first night. Hopefully do some night photography from our campsite and then head out the next morning with a guide. Spend the day in the area and shoot sunset a second night. Camp and then start making are way back home.

    I haven't camped near Bryce or Page so I have no information in that regard

    If Mylo is free, I would recommend him highly. If he is not, I am pretty sure he can recommend some individuals who will meet your needs. Mylo mainly shoots 4x5 film. I attended his Canyon de Chelly workshop in November of 2016. It will be mild during the day, but fairly cool to cold at night in the desert. Take some long underwear. - https://pathfinder.smugmug.com/Travel/Canyon-de-Chelly-and/

    I have found quite a bit of information on shooting Bryce and the different trails and such. Bryce will be our first stop and I plan on staying for 2 nights. I'm hoping to get to Bryce the first day well before sunset. Trying to get an early start. We shall see how that goes. I want to be able to secure a campsite and hopefully shoot sunset from one of the overlooks. We will head out for sunrise the next morning then spend the day hiking and shooting inside the canyon while the sun is overhead. Then shoot sunset again. Next morning maybe stay for sunrise then start making our way to Page.

    At Page, I want to shoot both sunrise and sunset at Horseshoe. I've seen some nice images of both but sunrise is my must get shot. Again, hopefully get two sunrises there to maximize potential for a great shot. During the midday, we will hit Antelope Canyon.

    I hope this information may answer some of your questions. If you think of more, I will try and reply to them as well. The desert SW is a favorite playground of mine too for photography, motorcycling and 4wheeling

    This has been hugely helpful. Thank you so much for taking the time.

    You may want a guide with a 4WD drive vehicle unless your camper is 4WD and has high ground clearance like a one tone dually flat bed. The sand can get VERY deep at times and without good ground clearance and 4WD you very likely WILL GET STUCK - deeply. I speak from personal experience here. A simple van conversion with 2WD likely won't make it through without a lot of shovel work, or even some chains. Get a 4WD vehicle for the tour - you want to shoot photographs, not dig in the sand. My first guide many years ago was in a 2WD Ford van ( when most folks really didn't have good 4WD ) and we spent half our day digging the wheels out over and over and over......

    The campervan is 2WD but I will have chains just in case we get snow. It goes without saying we won't be going off road but I will make sure any guides we hire have a 4WD.

    In Bryce, Zion and the other national parks your camper will be fine

    Horse Shoe Bend is a sunrise shoot and the walk up to the overlook is about 1/4 mile slightly up hill, maybe 15-20 minute walk. If the moon is out you can see easily, but if the moon is not out, you will want a nice light. Great view from up there. If you use graduated Neutral density filters you will want a 3stop or more up there. Or you can shoot HDR to capture the bright sunrise and the deep shadows way down in the canyon below.

    I ditched my GND filters long ago. I prefer to bracket and blend in post. Got tired of dealing with flare and often having to bracket anyhow. I do use solid ND filters but those server entirely different purpose.

    I'm very excited as no matter what, this trip will be awesome. Hopefully I will return with some great shots. I will definitely share on DGRIN.

    Again, thanks for the help and I will post if anymore questions come up.

    "I'm not yelling. I'm Cuban. That's how we talk."

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  • anonymouscubananonymouscuban Inner Tube Pilot Porter Ranch, CaliforniaPosts: 4,586Registered Users, Retired Mod Major grins

    Thanks for all the tips fellas. We got back on Saturday evening. We had an amazing time. Each place far exceeded my expectations. It's funny because you see enough photos of a place, you think you know it. Not even close. No matter how amazing the photo is, seeing these majestic places in person far exceed anything a photo can capture. WOW! I thought this was going to be a "check these destinations of the list" type trip. But all it's done is create a want to go back.

    We had pretty great weather during the whole trip. It got pretty cold at night in Bryce. Down to 12 degrees at one point but daytime temps were mild. Once down from the elevation of Bryce, temps were pretty nice. Never got below 40 degrees at the other spots. I wish we had a bit more weather, photography wise, but I think my wife would have killed me. She's not a camper and does not like the cold so I think I will count my blessings.

    Monument Valley was my favorite. I could spend my lifetime photographing that place. It's just so big and there is so much to see, so many compositions. I was sitting there one morning the mittens in front of me, by myself. I had hiked in about a mile before dawn. I was waiting for the sun to start lighting up the sky and I really just sat and took it all in. I imagined the different comps throughout the park, the different seasons, shooting during storms, etc. Unfortunately, the sky was bald so not much happened while I was there but man, still absolutely breathtaking.

    We did get some light shows during the trip. Most notably was at Horseshoe Bend. About 20 minutes after official sunset, the sky just lit up. This is by far my best shot of the trip. Thought I would share with you guys since you helped me plan my trip.

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  • pathfinderpathfinder Drive By Digital Shooter western IndianaPosts: 14,281Super Moderators moderator

    Great view from up there, and a very colorful image of Horseshoe Bend sunset. Well done!! Glad you had so much fun out there. You're right, you can explore the SouthWest for years and years and keep finding something new each time.

    Is your horizon tilted just a smidgeon, or is my monitor leaning to the right??

    Pathfinder - www.pathfinder.smugmug.com

    Moderator of the Technique Forum and Finishing School on Dgrin
  • anonymouscubananonymouscuban Inner Tube Pilot Porter Ranch, CaliforniaPosts: 4,586Registered Users, Retired Mod Major grins

    @pathfinder said:
    Great view from up there, and a very colorful image of Horseshoe Bend sunset. Well done!! Glad you had so much fun out there. You're right, you can explore the SouthWest for years and years and keep finding something new each time.

    Is your horizon tilted just a smidgeon, or is my monitor leaning to the right??

    Not tilted. I had my camera leveled on the vertical axis. Looks like it though.

    "I'm not yelling. I'm Cuban. That's how we talk."

    Moderator of the People and Go Figure forums

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  • anonymouscubananonymouscuban Inner Tube Pilot Porter Ranch, CaliforniaPosts: 4,586Registered Users, Retired Mod Major grins

    Thought I would share a few more shots from the trip.

    Bryce Canyon:

    Horseshoe Bend:

    Upper Antelope Canyon:

    Monument Valley:

    "I'm not yelling. I'm Cuban. That's how we talk."

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  • pathfinderpathfinder Drive By Digital Shooter western IndianaPosts: 14,281Super Moderators moderator

    Great series of images. Looks like you had a great trip!! I envy you the sky you had at Horseshoe Bend.

    Pathfinder - www.pathfinder.smugmug.com

    Moderator of the Technique Forum and Finishing School on Dgrin
  • kdogkdog artistically challenged San Jose, CAPosts: 11,236Administrators moderator

    Great images! On that Forest Gump shot, I would remove the signs and marker poles.

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