View Full Version : Monthly...The Story Behind Every Photograph

Steve Sherman
1-May-2016, 16:03
This image was made in northern Arizona in Lower Antelope Canyon during the early 90's. Lower Antelope Canyon is a "subterranean" slit canyon much more convoluted and difficult to get in and out of then the more famous Antelope Canyon. Because of that it does not have the same high traffic that the “main canyon” has. Also, the canyon is much brighter; leading to shorter exposures but also has less contrast. Easy to say, this photograph is a dramatic departure from how the canyon literally appears. A hearty group of photogs I regularly traveled with would help one another lower down each other’s camera gear and then climb down ourselves, sometimes via rickety wood ladders provided by native landowners hoping for a gratuity in return. Still there were several areas where ropes were essential to rappel down the numerous drops, also provided by the landowners.
This image was made with my back to a wall with a 90mm lens on 5x7 and looking up, the camera so close to the wall that I could not completely see the entire ground glass. Focusing via camera movements was done more from an analytical approach rather than actually viewing the ground glass because of the reduced light and also the inability to get behind the camera far enough to gauge whether the image had a chance of being in focus. Years of studio work help me understand the effects slight compound movements would have on the resulting plane of focus especially using such a short lens the movements to the eye were very slight.

I purposely turned the final print 90 degrees because I liked the image much better in a vertical orientation (turn the image 90 degrees counterclockwise and that is reality). Never would I share this with the gallery viewing public, it would be presented in the manner the artist wished it portrayed and left at that. Interestingly, after the first promotional ad I did for Agfa Geavert they wanted to do another using my imagery, they chose this image, except they wanted to turn my image back to it’s original horizontal orientation, I declined, artist integrity got in the way… I never heard from Agfa again! Someone lost out here...likely me.

Tragically, this is the very canyon where 11 out of 12 tourists with a European outfitting company lost their lives in a flash flood back in August of 1997, memory tells me that only 1 or 2 bodies were ever recovered. I was always cautioned about flash floods in these canyons and warned, “it’s not the raining falling on your head that gets you, it’s the rain 20 miles away! Let me conclude by saying, no imagery, mine or from others will ever convey the the incredible beauty and power of this natural phenomenon when witnessed first hand. For more images of these slit canyons see this link to my web site: http://www.steve-sherman.com/canyons_main.htm

5x7 Deardorff 90mm Super Angulon. f 32 @ 30 minutes. Tri X / HC 110. Extreme dilution

2-May-2016, 22:32
Thanks for sharing, Steve, amazing story,


3-May-2016, 07:42
Always very interesting, and a beautiful picture.
I can't imagine taking a 30min exposure there today, it has become so crowded even on the lower side. Somebody would knock the tripod over for sure :)