Exploring the Slots
Slot canyons can provide the opportunity to shoot photographs that are (almost literally) out of this world. But getting them is no mere walk in the wilderness. I sat down with Peter and asked him why and what it takes to “get the shot” down there.
AZ: Tonight on “From the Edge with Peter Lik” you go and shoot at various canyons. People are sure to find the slot canyons segment particularly interesting, especially since some of your most famous shots have come from slots. What are some of the challenges of shooting in them?
PL: Well, you can get bloody killed if you don’t do your homework, for one thing! The buggers flood very suddenly if it rains and people have died down there. I pay a lot of attention to the weather before I jump in my truck and hit the road.
AZ: And once you get there, you still have your work cut out.
PL: My oath. Basically you’re going down into this deep separation in the earth, that’s narrow as buggery in places, and requires real physical fitness to maneuver through.
AZ: What equipment is needed when shooting slot canyons?
PL: There are a few really important things. You definitely need a tripod because you’re going to be shooting long exposures to get shots with great saturation. You’ll need a cable release to reduce camera shake and a wide-angle lens because you’re shooting in tight spaces and you want to show as much as you can.
AZ: Can any photographer do this kind of shoot?
PL: Well, yes and no. Anyone who is physically up to it and done their research, sure. But it’s like a lot of things: If you don’t prepare, you can come bloody unstuck.
AZ: Apart from checking the weather and physical fitness, what preparation do you recommend?
PL: Take a decent amount of food and water because you’re going to be down there for several hours, finding the right spot and waiting for the perfect light. You also need to wear good boots because you’re clambering over rocks, going up and down ladders, and walking quite a long way. If you look after your feet, they’ll take you where you want to go. If you don’t look after them, you can get into real trouble. Finally, I’d say take a good back pack but pack it conservatively. Take what you really need and nothing more. It’s a tough hike and, once again, you’re squeezing through tight spaces meant for skinny fellas! [laughs]
AZ: Anything else?
PL: Yeah, you have to be patient! Get down there early and be prepared to wait for the right light to come. Mother Nature keeps her schedule, not yours. On the flipside of that, keep an eye on the time. You don’t want to get caught down in a slot canyon after dark.
AZ: Should be a great episode tonight.
PL: It’s a ripper, mate!