The first lens a lot of landscape photographers want to buy is a wide-angle. Intuitively, it makes some sense that the most useful lens at an amazing scene is the one that captures as much of the scene as possible. But that mindset only works so well in practice. So, for this week’s video, I traveled to Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Utah to photograph some amazing slot canyons and talk about how to use your wide angle lens.
First up, especially if you’re interested in slot canyon landscape photography, I think you’ll find a lot of interesting scenery in this video (and of course it’s also great for wide angle lens tips):
Also, on Youtube below the video, we’ve got a discussion on which wide angle lens is the best for photography. Check it out if you’re curious and/or have an opinion to add!
Previously, some Photography Life readers have asked about article versions of our new videos. This time, we already have an article written that covers all the same topics. I’ve refreshed it to be up to date today: How to Use Wide Angle Lenses.
If you liked this video and want to see more like it, let us know by subscribing! That way, you’ll also get notified for next week’s video ahead of time, where we’ll be doing a giveaway specifically for Youtube-based viewers.
Firstly let me say that I’ve recently found this website and in particular find your input extremely insightful. The rest of the authors are very good but your words and ideas resonate with me.
Typically I don’t do YouTube videos. Several other photography sites used them extensively, and I feel they are a crutch to overcome less than stellar writing abilities.
In reading the comments to your video, I was encouraged to view it and I’m extremely glad I did. It’s wonderfully done and extremely informative.
Thank you for sharing you talents and skills with us. You are making all of us better photos!
Thank you for the kind feedback, Christopher!
I admit, I’m also not much of a Youtube video watcher. I tend to prefer articles instead. So, I’m trying to make the videos useful for people who are the same way. Happy to hear you thought this one meets that goal.
Sorry for the typos in my reply. Cheers!
I could not agree more. I’ve tried to watch other photographers and photography channels and I always come back to PL, and Spencer in particular. They’re so concise and easy to comprehend. I’ve watched Spencers video so much that I can actually read his articles, and in my head, hear his tone and cadence. He is truly a gifted individual in photography and instructing.
Spencer, yet another very well produced and informative video. What I do appreciate is your very good spoken voice and the relaxed way in which you deliver the talk, without tripping over!It was great to see the slot Canyons and read the comments about various locations. I am planning a visit from the UK and have added them to my trip notes. Best wishes
Outstanding work Spencer (as always! :))
Thank you for the detailed and informative tuition
Very helpful and concise video. You clearly covered a lot of ground in u minutes. Are you going to post a photo and description in “photo spots”? Which slot canyon did you shoot? Is there a “better” time of year to shoot GSE slot canyons?
Thank you, Philip. In terms of the time of year, so long as the temperature isn’t too extreme, it is not really a factor for photography. But time of day can make a difference. It’s hard to avoid bright spots of sun on the canyon walls, so either morning or evening will be preferable. Or, visit on a bright day with thin clouds. Just be careful of visiting on an overcast day, since it may mean rain in the surrounding (100+ mile) area, and water can flow in strange patterns there. This is just about the worst place to be during a flash flood.
As to specific canyons, Rustin named them in his comment earlier. On some trails you can do multiple canyons in a single hike, so if you’re there for a shorter number of days, that’s where you may want to focus.
Great article, great movie, great pictures, great explanations and last – but not least – great motivation to pick up the camera and buy a ticket for Utah … ;-)
Thank you for the excellent series of tutorial Spencer!
Your mastery of the subject is a given. Your mastery of the language is a big bonus. Not an “er” or “duh” in the whole presentation. This not only makes it a pleasure to listen to it helps grasp the points you make. Your wide angle presentation is particularly good. Clear and concise
As I use a DX camera and with most landscapes a Nikkor 12-24mm f4 equivalent to a full frame 18-36mm, and a very good semi-pro lens, I wonder if I am missing out not having something wider.
Thanks for this very useful video. With my Nikon F System I had the 16-35/4 but I haven’t used it often below 20mm because the corners got so soft. Now with my 14-30/4 I want to dive into the world of wide angel landscapes. Your video will help me very much. Again thank you, Spencer!
Of my four lenses I have in my bag (all prime), the one that is attached to the body (FF) 99,9 % of the time, is a 28 mm. I do also have a 15 mm, but I kind of like the angel that the 28 mm produces. My main interest is landscape photography, but also in some aspect, travel photography. However, I think that the 28 mm is a superb lens for all-round shooting and you can have a lot of fun with it, not at least if you play around with the perspective.
The 15 mm is in some contexts just to wide, but I also use it sometimes. However, I have to be honest with the fact that I´d never tried a 24 nor a 35 mm lens, even if i think that a 35 mm it’s to close to a 50 mm (that I already have in my bag), but I could consider a 24 mm.
This is a very practical and concise video! Well done! I’m heading to Utah for a tour of several parks/monuments in mid-October for some interesting fall color as well. I wasn’t aware there are slot canyons in the Escalante so it was even greater to get this piece of valuable info as I plan. I’m checking online and it seems I can find some locations, but I would be grateful for any pointers.
I was wondering if you or any of PL readers knows what the situation in Yellowstone will be in terms of fall color between October 11 and 25 as I’m considering to spend 2 full days there as well.
Keep up the great content ! Thx
I can’t comment on Yellowstone but for slot canyons in GSE you should focus on Hole in the Rock Road just outside of the town of Escalante (Zebra, Tunnel, Spooky, Neon, Peekaboo and others) and then south of Kodachrome Basin State Park.
Around the southern edge of the park at the Utah- Arizona border is another batch of slots. Note that some of these are on First Nation lands and require permits or guides, including the very famous Antelope Canyon.
Don’t expect to easily get between these two areas just because they don’t look too far in the map!
A final thought: Somewhat hidden, the eastern side of Zion NP, east of the Zion-Mt Carmel tunnel, has a number of mostly namely slots right off of the road (Hwy 9).
Thanks a lot Rustin for the reply. I have no doubt of the time it takes. I usually look things up in google maps and then add 30 mins or even 1 hour depending on how winding the roads are for each 2 hrs of pure driving. Plus as u probably know, one ends up finding worthy subjects along the way, and u just HAVE to make that stop and the next and yet the next (in the meantime, wife is going haywire in the car)…
Cheers and thanks again !
Mazen, Rustin’s comment covers everything I was going to say and more! All of the photos in this article/video were taken at slot canyons off Hole in the Rock Road. Not the smoothest or shortest of drives, but worth it.
As for fall color – it varies by year of course, but you’ll be closer to arriving late than arriving early if your range is somewhere from the 11th to 25th. There will still be some pockets of color, but a lot of brown too, especially near the end of that date range.
Thanks Spencer. I’d like to get some forest/mountainscape time given the relatively long period of red/desert-like rock landscapes we will encounter. I will not get bored myself of the latter type of landscape (I can probably spend a lifetime there!) but my wife just might as she is not used to this and is not a photographer, so I thought Yellowstone provides variety since I will probably fly in/out through Salt Lake City.It’s less useful if it ends up being brown, although Yellowstone has the allure of its geysers and odd vibrant colors regardless.
Really appreciated your feedback. Thanks!
Very good and helpful. Thank you!
Sure thing, Thomas!