This weekend was rather special for me, as I joined a group of fellow photographers from my club and had a day taking a Jeep tour into Canyon De Chelly. Wiki tells us that “Canyon de Chelly (də·shā′) National Monument was established on April 1, 1931 as a unit of the National Park Service. It is located in northeastern Arizona within the boundaries of the Navajo Nation.
Reflecting one of the longest continuously inhabited landscapes of North America, it preserves ruins of the early indigenous tribes that lived in the area, including the Ancient Pueblo Peoples (also called Anasazi) and Navajo. The monument covers 83,840 acres (131.0 sq mi; 339.3 km2) and encompasses the floors and rims of the three major canyons: de Chelly, del Muerto, and Monument. These canyons were cut by streams with headwaters in the Chuska mountains just to the east of the monument.
Canyon de Chelly is entirely owned by the Navajo Tribal Trust of the Navajo Nation. It is the only National Park Service unit that is owned and cooperatively managed in this manner. Approximately 40 Navajo families live in the park. Access to the canyon floor is restricted, and visitors are allowed to travel in the canyons only when accompanied by a park ranger or an authorized Navajo guide. In 2009 Canyon de Chelly National Monument was recognized as one of the most-visited national monuments in the United States.”
Our group went, on convoy, through the park using the Navajo owned Beauty Way Jeep Tours - http://canyondechellybeautywayjeeptours.com/: which I can recommend. Also, and nothing to do with photography, make sure you ride in a Jeep, and not ‘just’ a four-wheeled drive SUV. On the Canyon floor, especially going through the many, steep banked, streams, you need a Jeep. Here is a telling image of a trusty Jeep pulling a stuck 4-wheeler out of trouble:
First, I used my Bad Elf data logger, set to 0.1Hz refresh. Although it was running all day (0800-1600) it worked flawlessly throughout the Canyon, and had plenty of battery to spare. The .gpx file was simply emailed from my iPad, which Bad Elf uses as the interface to the real world, and brought into Lightroom.
BTW, I am using LR-CC now, and apart from some GPU concerns, LR-CC seems to be working fine.
To increase my agility, eg getting in and out of the Jeep and clambering over rocks, I used my Cotton Carrier vest for carrying my 5DIII, which meant my 5DIII was always available when I needed it and was securely locked on my chest when I was moving around, ie no swinging from a strap around my neck.
Because I was using Dual-ISO on the 5DIII, I had the additional post-processing step of converting the Dual-ISO RAWs into 16-bit TIFFs. Some may find this a bind; however, I think it’s worth the processing cost to get a 3Ev boost in dynamic range. As I’ve said in other posts: the 5DIII with ML ETTR and Dual-ISO is a killer combination, ie I rarely bracket on a tripod these days, unless there is a clear need, ie focus bracketing or a very high contrast scene, eg in a church.
Another experiment I carried out, without a tripod to slow me down, was to see how well I could do with hand-held panos. I’m now using and sold on AutoPano Giga 4 pano stitching software. It simply handles anything I throw at it. As an example, I took a 9-shot hand held pano of the ‘group’ looking at some Navajo rock art. Here is one of the 24mm single image captures (a TIFF processed from the Dual-ISO capture):
Finally, here are a couple of Canyon De Chelly images from the 5DIII: I’ll write about my IR shots in another post.