Trip to Four Corners area - where to go? : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I will be heading out in 2 weeks for a week-long photo excursion in northern Arizona and southern Utah. Here are the places I had in mind to photograph with my 4x5:

Slot Canyons near lake Powell Momument Valley (definitely a few shots of the mittens) Arches National Park Zion National Park Bryce Canyon National Park Canyonlands National Park Kodachrome Basin State Park ?? Calf Creek Falls in Gran Staircase-Escalante Cathedral Valley

Any other places that I have left out? I have intentionally left out the Grand Canyon, as I was there last year.

I those locations, what are the 'gotta see' places? I am not asking for your private shooting spots, just general locations that I cannot miss.

I will be leaving from northern California, and might also pass through Death Valley, as well.

Thanks in advance for your thoughts on this one. I am recent high-tech casualty, and I am going to take advantage of my time off until I start my new job at the end of May.

-- Andy Biggs (, April 28, 2001


Personally, I think that's an awful lot to pack into one week. Why not pick a few and do 'em right? I'd probably be tempted to skip Zion, as they're now running a shuttle up the main canyon, which does not really allow freedom of movement at prime times for photogs. If you have 4WD, you might consider the White Rim Trail for a few days in Canyonlands, although you might not find any available campsites left this close to your departure. A couple of days in Arches would be sweet, as would a trip to some slightly less-visited places like Valley of the Gods, Natural Bridges Natl. Monument and Muley Point overlooking the Goosenecks of the San Juan River, all three in close proximity to each other AND Monument Valley.

-- Todd Caudle (, April 28, 2001.

Just look for Kodak's friendly "photogenic spot" signs and plant your tripod nearby. Just kidding ;-)

-- Andreas Carl (, April 29, 2001.

Andy, I would also add Canyon de Chelly, besides Valley of the Gods and the Goosenecks of the San Juan river and of course Monument Valley. About Upper Antelope: I wouldn't go with a 4x5, not enough space in the canyon and light changing far too fast to set up a view camera. Have fun Roberto

-- Roberto Manderioli (, April 29, 2001.

Andy, I definitely agree with Todd, slow down and enjoy a few places...I just returned last week from Monument Valley and spent 3 days there...If this is your first trip to the southwest, take your time and come back a second and third time, I live here and there's a lot to take-in....while in Page, definitely get to Horseshoe Butte, about 2 miles south of Page and on the west side of the road, it's a mile hike to the edge but worth the effort...also, avoid Upper Antelope Canyon and go across the road to Lower Antelope, you could easily spend a few hours in this's about 2 hours drive from Page to Monument Valley, another hour+ to Canyon de Chelly, Goosenecks are in the vicinity of Monument Valley...frankly, just Page to Canyon de Chelly to Monument Valley could take-in a week, especially with a 4x5, afterall these are not highway overlooks and you don't have a point-and-shoot....enjoy your trip, Jack

-- Jack Guckian (, April 29, 2001.

Are you shooting color or B&W? I'd choose Zion over the Page area. You can shoot in Zion for a couple of days and still not get below the surface. There are miles and miles of beautiful canyons up on the top. Antelope? I've shot tons of film there with a view camera and still prefer a 35mm or 2 1/4. Unless you are heavily into filters and know what the effects of under or over exposure does to colors on Trans films this is not the time of year for exquisite color in the slots. Bryce is a really good place right now with morning light. The north rim of Grand Canyon was still closed last week. I went and shot a bunch of pictographs and small ruin sites last week and the water was high in some of the canyons. Take a guided tour of some of the Canyon de Chelly ruins. There are some nice images to be had there. Arches is fantastic right now too along with the cedar gnats. Late afternoon the light is really nice at Delicate Arch. Potash road offers some really nice views too. Have fun. James

-- james (, April 29, 2001.

I would ask if you've visited the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, or the South Rim? If the South Rim, then you can't miss the North Rim.

Whereas the South Rim is panoramic and spread out in the distance, geological features of the North Rim loom up there right in front of you. It's absolutely breathtaking.

-- neil poulsen (, April 30, 2001.

There is so much potential there. To optimize your time, get some good information, like Laurent Martres' Land of the Canyons (, back issues of Hitchman's newletter (, and guides from Also, if it's a one week trip, do not drive from Northern California, but instead fly to Vegas or SLC. Death Valley is too hot at this time of the year.

-- Q.-Tuan Luong (, April 30, 2001.

Thanks for all of your answers. I have decided to go to the slot canyons near Page, Monument Valley, and Canyonlands. I should be gone about 9 or 10 days. Will be a blast.

Since I am new to the large format community, what would be some appropriate focal lengths for my new Canham DLC 4x5? I picked up a Rodenstock Apo - Sironar S 210 f5.6 to start off with. Now that I have grasped the 'basics', I am looking into 90mm, 150mm, and 300mm focal lengths. I will probably rent a few in the coming week to see what I should get.

In other words, what would be a good focal length to photograph the Mittens in Monument Valley? Slot Canyons? I have an opportunity to pick up the Nikon SW 90 f8 from a friend for a great price. I hate to purchase lenses specifically for a trip, but I know the subject matter won't change much over time.

-- Andy Biggs (, May 01, 2001.

If you plan to visit Antelope Canyon, be sure to obtain a permit first. The Canyon is inside the Navaho Reservation, and a permit was required when I visited. It may not be now, but you should check. At that time a permit could be obtained at the local chapter house in Page or from an agency (sorry can't remember which one) in Window Rock. I tell you this because I had a bad experience there when a guide who took me in left me alone for a short while. I was accosted and asked for my permit--also told that my camera could (and presumably would) be confiscated. I got out fast! Bring the widest angle lens you have for this canyon and be prepared for long exposures.

-- Jeanne Flowers (, May 02, 2001.

With regard to Antelope Canyons, skip the guides and just drive there yourself. The people who take your money will charge you an extra $5 for the Navajo Reservation permit and handle it right at the sites.

I would also recommend Lower Antelope over Upper Antelope. The scale is smaller and more intimate and IMO, the light and shapes are _much_ more appealing than in Upper Antelope. I also don't like the idea of having to pay an extra $5 for each hour beyond the first that I spend in Upper Antelope especially since the fee for Lower Antelope is good for as long as you want to stay (typically 3-4 hours, in my case).

-- Jeffrey Goggin (, May 02, 2001.

Andy, a 210mm on 4x5 will work great in lower Antelope, avoid upper Antelope and a 90mm...wide angle is fine initially but you'll find a 210-300mm is the way to go as you spend more time there and find more subtle details to photograph...become very familiar with the reciprocity characteristics of your film,as the exposures are very long and most important be aware of the weather conditions, if it rains get out or you'll quickly understand what flash-flooding is all about...if you go for Horseshoe Butte, 75mm for the entire bend of the Colorado river is'll be fine in Monument Valley, just take the loop road and if you get turned-on by the area, hire a guide the next day for more intimate areas, their well versed with photographers needs....most of all, slow down and take-in the landscape, have fun, Jack

-- Jack Guckian (, May 03, 2001.

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