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“amazing experience”
Review of Overland Canyon Tours - CLOSED

Overland Canyon Tours
Attraction details
phoenix, az
Level Contributor
46 reviews
13 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 72 helpful votes
“amazing experience”
Reviewed April 9, 2013

used this site (as usual) to decide who to go with to visit the slot canyons, and once again tripadvisor came through as did overland tours. a smaller establishment without any fancy vehicles, but our guide was experienced and has me convinced that ANYONE can produce amazing photos with their guidance. this truly is something most anyone can do physically and the guide is very well informed with geography, conditions and with photo tips. the little extra it cost to go prime time seemed worth it since we seemed to encounter just the right light and missed the herds of overbearing tourists that filled the canyon on our way out. this was definitely one of the most unique natural wonders and shouldnt be missed if anywhere near the page area. even knowing there is about an hour detour to get here from the south this was well worth the drive.

Visited April 2013
Helpful?
1 Thank bobambro
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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Honolulu
Level Contributor
31 reviews
9 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 20 helpful votes
“Great experience”
Reviewed April 1, 2013

I just did a 10:15 am photo tour last week, with Marty as the tour guide. He was terrific! He's been a Page resident for over 20 years, and knows Antelope Canyon like the back of his hand. I did the upper canyon tour, and needless to say I don't have to repeat what all the reviewers have said about the crowd factor. But having said that, he did a superb job getting us into position for many many awesome shots. I didn't really expect to see sunbeams this early (last week of March), but two sunbeams did make an appearance and Marty knew exactly when they would appear and where we should position ourselves. I forgot to mention there were only five of us on the photo tour. He made sure we all got the shots we came for, and I have to say all the tour guides cooperated extremely well with each other to make sure we didn't get in each other's way (as much as humanly possible, anyway). I give all the guides huge props for their ability to work with each other and position their group members in veryconfined spaces, with time constraints.

I will also repeat what other reviewers have said and caution future visitors that the guides will take a shovel (or their hand) and throw fine dirt into the air when a sunbeam appears, to make the sunbeam more visible for the photo. I didn't bring one, but it would probably be a good idea to wear a hankerchief or even a surgical type mask over your mouth when the dirt-throwing starts. The dirt is so fine you can't avoid getting some of it in your lungs.

Someday I'll get back to Page, and will do these two things for sure: return to Lower Canyon (I also spent one and a half hours there but I was in photographer's heaven and there was not enough time), and take the Canyon X tour with Overland Canyon Tours. They are the only tour company that can go there, and I saw a number of very cool photos taken in Canyon X on display in their photo gallery.

I'll try to come back to this review to post some of my Antelope Canyon pics. I recommend Overland Canyon Tours!

Visited March 2013
Helpful?
Thank swLUM
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Level Contributor
4 reviews
3 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
“Experience makes price a bargain”
Reviewed March 19, 2013 via mobile

I have been wanting to do a slot canyon photo tour since my visit to overcrowded Antelope Canyon a few years ago. The Canyon X photo tour was recommended to me by a friend (with minimal interest in photography) several months ago. Charlie did not disappoint. He was an excellent resource with lots of tips for shooting the canyon and taught me more about photography and my camera than I had gotten from several books and classes. I think $160 for the day was a bargain when his knowledge of photography is included. Spent several hours filling up a couple of memory cards and never felt hurried.

Helpful?
1 Thank William B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
chicago
Level Contributor
5 reviews
4 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
“Upper Canyon”
Reviewed March 16, 2013

We decided to tour upper Antelope Canyon because of the reviews on Trip Advisor. Overall we did enjoy the trip. We drove in comfort in the vans instead of the trucks with seats in the back. The tour guide Vivian was not communiative and I had to ask for her name. She was helpful in pointing out areas in the canyon for shooting photos, as well as taking a few for us. However, she never gave us any information about the canyons or make it interesting to point out facts about the area. When going on a tour, I guess I expect to learn more about the area, what formed the canyons, etc.

Visited March 2013
Helpful?
Thank sweetconnie
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Dallas TX
Level Contributor
3 reviews
3 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
“For photographers you cannot beat Overland”
Reviewed February 25, 2013

I won the lottery to hike The Wave on January 30. I thought since I was going to be in the area anyway I should shoot Antelope Canyon. I had researched Antelope Canyon in the past; leaving aside the Canyon itself, the vast majority of reviews are quite negative as far as the experience. In doing my research I stumbled upon Canyon X and Overland Canyon Tours. The reviews of Overland Canyon Tours are almost unanimously glowing. Add me to the list of fans.

Since so much has been written about Overland, I will concentrate on photography/photographers here. If you know the answers to the following four questions, then this review is for you. (If you do not, Overland may be a bit more than you need. On the other hand, if you do not mind paying a bit extra for premium service, then by all means go with Overland. Also, if you are curious, the answers to the quiz are below.) (1) Do you know what DSLR means? (2) Do you know what Manfrotto/Giotto means? (3) Do you know what “bracketing” means? (4) Do you know what “HDR” means? If you answered “Yes” to these four questions, then this review is for you.

First, I want to give kudos to Brenda. She answers the phone/e-mails and handles scheduling. She is also a quite accomplished photographer herself. She was incredibly helpful and accommodating during the scheduling process. I was left with the distinctive impression that she would go the extra mile to make sure your trip is as good as it can be.

On January 28, I went to Antelope Canyon with Bill as my guide. We met at the Gallery at about 10:00 a.m. and headed out to Upper Antelope. It is a short drive to the turn off for Upper Antelope (right by the controversial Navajo power station), and then a bumpy, sandy, off road drive to the entrance to Antelope. Bill was great. He gave me as much information as I needed, helpful tips, and obviously pointed out the money shot locations. I highly recommend going to Upper Antelope in the off season (i.e. not summer vacation time). I had Bill to myself, and while I was in the Canyon, I saw three other small groups. When I had gone through the Canyon, and was returning, I had it to myself. I do not see how it would be possible to get the shots I did in the Summer, when I hear it is cram packed. (There is not much room in there.) The lighting was actually perfect while I was in there. When we arrived, it was cloudy, with just enough sun coming through to act like a giant soft box in the Canyon. Eventually the clouds cleared, and there was unfiltered sunlight. Then, as I was almost out, it began snowing! The best light was definitely the sunlight filtered by cloud cover. Other than you can’t take the classic sun-streak shot, there is no reason to fight crowds in the summer – go in the off season!

The next day, the owner of Overland, Charlie, took me, and one other guy, out to Canyon X. It is a bit farther out, but it is still quite close to Page. You will start out early in the morning; go through one slot canyon, come out and eat lunch (provided), then take a short hike over to another slot canyon. (The hiking is, frankly, minimal; anyone in at least average shape should be able to handle.) We of course had Canyon X to ourselves, as Overland is the only group allowed to take people to this privately owned area. I have gone back and compared my Antelope Canyon and Canyon X pictures, and I would say you can mostly get the same types of shots in either. In other words, if you are going in the summer and you can only go to one, I would definitely go to Canyon X and avoid the crowds. Charlie will get as involved as you want him in your photography. The other gentleman that went with us was brand new to DSLR’s (Canon EOS Rebel T3i and Wal-Mart tripod). I think he learned tons from Charlie, which not only helped him in his canyon photography, but I think helped him immensely overall. You should definitely get his tips, both as to technique as well as locations. He will show you big picture areas, details, and everything in between. Do not shy away from getting in close, the details, texture, etc. are beautiful. In an interesting phenomenon, showing you how caught up you will be in your photography, when we were at the end of the second canyon and Charlie announced we would need to be wrapping up soon, I told him I was going to run back to the entrance to get a few more shots. He responded that I need not run. I thought he was just being gracious (which he was), but literally we had walked through two chambers, maybe a quarter of a mile, probably less. In my mind, I thought we had gone way farther.

If you are spending some time in the Page area, try to schedule your tour with Overland early in your stay. The tips you will learn from their guides will help you with shooting in the Southwest in general. Also, if you are going in the winter, like I did, this will give you some flexibility in case the weather does not cooperate.

I was unable to do the Wave hike the next day, as rains had rendered the road to the trailhead impassable, even for four wheel drive. (I spent the day in Monument Valley UT instead.) I was not one bit disappointed at not being to hike to the Wave, the entire reason why I had planned this trip, thanx to Charlie, Bill, Brenda, and Overland Canyon Tours; they provided me experiences I will never forget. (I’ll keep trying to get to the Wave.)

Shooting Tips:

OK, for those who did not know the answer to my quiz above, and have made it this far, here are the answers (for those who did know the answers, here is why they are important): (1) DSLR = Digital Single Lens Reflex Camera (i.e., not a point and shoot or cell phone). (2) The top two brands of tripods. (3) Bracketing = taking at least three exposures, one that you believe is the proper exposure, one under-exposed, and one over-exposed. (4) HDR = High Dynamic Range – HDR programs, such as Photomatix Pro, take your bracketed exposures and merge them, taking the best from each exposure.

I would suggest shooting something around a 24–70mm lens. This should cover practically all of your shot needs. I wish I had asked for advice on this beforehand. I brought a 10-22mm wide angle lens (I shoot a Canon EOS 7D, which is cropped sensor), the 28-135mm lens my camera had come with, and I had rented a 100-400mm zoom. I ended up using the 28-135mm the most, and the 10-22mm for about 25% of the shots. I did not use the big lens at all. I suspect with a 24-70mm you would not have to change lenses at all, which is good in slot canyons as they are quite dusty. If you had a wide angle too, you would have everything covered.

I auto-bracketed at -2, 0, +2. Charlie is a big believer in manually bracketing your shots. I would say that in the majority of my canyon shots the +2 shot was worthless; it was too over-exposed, and the garish orange color was not helpful in HDR at all. On these shots I just used the underexposed and properly exposed shot for HDR, and that worked just fine. In hindsight, I would have liked to either do -2, 0, +1; or maybe even -2, -1, 0. Of course if you shoot five exposures (-2, -1, 0, +1, and +2) you’ll have your bases completely covered. (Take a couple of big cards, I filled up a 16GB card and half an 8GB. BTW, take a spare battery too.)
Here was my typical workflow: (1) Set up tripod and camera. I shot in Aperture Priority, usually in a middle aperture of about f11. Set up your auto bracketing, and set shooting to high speed continuous. (By the way, you can also obviously shoot in Manual and manually bracket if you prefer to have complete control.) I shoot RAW (hence the need for a lot of memory). Plug in your remote. (2) Auto focus to get close. (3) Turn off auto focus on lens – i.e. switch to manual focus. (4) Switch to Live View (which eats up battery, hence the spare battery recommendation). Zoom in as close as your camera allows and do final manual focusing so you are tack sharp. (5) Zoom back out, make sure everything is composed like you want it, make sure you are in a comfortable position, and hit the remote. I post processed with Photomatix Pro and Photoshop Elements using their RAW converter. It is probably sacrilegious to say so, but I think many of my shots were prettier than the actual thing. There is actually some logic to this. Your camera, if you have bracketed, will pick up some deep purples and blues from reflected sky that I think our eyes just do not see that way. It makes for incredible contrasts with the yellows, oranges, and reds that you easily see.

Take a Lenspen and carefully brush off your lens often.

Hope this helps. Have fun!

Visited January 2013
Helpful?
4 Thank Paulo F
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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