This is just a follow up on this based on my two trips to Antelope Canyon this summer. On both trips I took the 2 1/2 photographers tour with Antelope Slot Canyon Tours. My first time at Antelope Canyon was July 3rd. There were 4 or 5 of us in the group and the guide was very good. He pretty much helped herd crowds and put dust in the air to get the shafts to illuminate and then let us set up and do our thing. I thought it was fairly crowded, but there were moments between groups when I could get some good shots. All in all, it was very good. The second time was Aug 22d. Same company, but different guide. This time there were about 12-14 in the group, mostly families with children using pocket digital cameras. The guide thought it was her duty to tell us exactly where to stand and where to take what snapshot. It was very annoying. This was hardly a photograpers tour. It was an extended 'let's take the family into the canyon tour'. The crowds on this trip were about double what I saw in July. There were very few moments where you weren't wall to wall people. The worst part was despite her assurances to the contrary, the tour guide left the first chambers before the sun rays started and spent most of the time in the far part of the canyon where the sun rays never shine. We didn't return back to the first chambers until the rays were already gone. It was a complete waste of time. I will never use Chief Tsosie's Antelope Canyon Slot Canyon Tours again. Their photographers tour is not for photographers, it's for whoever just wants to spend a longer time in the canyon. I understand they can't control who signs up for what, but they should be able to control their guides and where they spend their time and how they treat photographers. Don't get me wrong, she was very nice, but did not treat the group like a tour of pro or semi pro photographers. She treated us (frankly like most of the group was) a family snapshot walk through. A minor point, but an important one for photographers. It had recently flash flooded through the canyon and removed about 4 feed ot sand from the base. What remained was damp and did not provide the dust necessary to get the shafts illuminated. Our guide basically said, too bad. I saw another company's guide carry in 3 bags of dry sand from outside to use. A simple thing, but indicative of someone who cares and knows how to take care of their photographers. Finally, even though it was supposed to be 2 1/2 hours, we left their base in Page at 1035 and were back at Page by 1245. Take out driving time and the stand outside and hear her explain what ISO is we had maybe 1 3/4 hours inside. I said before that I liked the first guide, but I heard that he was let go from them and doesn't give their tours anymore.
My lessons learned from my two trips are: Don't go in the summer if you can avoid it. The chance of getting great photos (to me that means without people is slim). Perhaps late May or early June would be best. Second, I'll ask a whole lot of questions about other companies photo tours to see if I can fine one that will treat their photographers more appropriately. Also ask them which times are best. For late Aug, the time the shaft seemed to hit the bottom seemed to be only between 1130 and 1200.