Sunday, June 10, 2012

Photographing the Milky Way in Arches National Park

OK, so my equipment is not the very best and it took several attempts just to get stars to appear in my images, but boy is it fun trying to get photos of the Milky Way in the middle of the night in Arches National Park.  I used a Canon T2i to capture my photographs of the Milky Way.

It was on May 28th at around 3:00 a.m. that I finally got an image of the Milky Way to appear in my camera.  I was staying in Moab and set my alarm for 1:30 a.m., got up and drove to the Maverik gas station to get some coffee and headed up into Arches National Park.  I had tried several times previously this year to shoot images of the night sky without any luck (maybe a few dots appeared in my images).  This time I promised myself that I was going to get the shot.

I stopped after entring the park to check the night sky.  It was pitch black and you could easily see the Milky Way with the naked eye.  I decided that I would try to photorgraph the Milky Way with Balanced Rock in the foreground and headed for that location.  When I arrived at the parking area, there was one car parked there, but not a person to be found.

I had talked with several photographers while shooting the sunrise at Deadhoarse Point several weeks prior.  They provided some advice on shooting the Milky Way and I also searched the netherlands of the internet for clues.  I finally settled on what I needed to do to get some photos of the night sky.  So, I grabbed my headlamp, camera and tripod and hiked over to a location that lined up the Milky Way on the right side of Balanced Rock.  I got my equipment setup and set the camera and lense to the following settings: 1) Shutter Speed at 25 seconds, 2) f-stop at 3.5 (lense open all the way), 3) ISO at 6500 and 4) set the focus on manual just shy of the infinity setting.  I also setup the 2-second timer on the camera and had the mirro locked in the up position.  The difficult part was framing the shot, with it soo dark out, it was very hard to see anything well enough to frame the shot.

I was where my imagination runs wild, in Arches National Park around 3:00 a.m. all by myself, it was quiet and peacefull and a sky full of stars.  I clicked off the first shot which took forever to provide a preview in the camera.  I did it!  I could see the Milky Way in my image, I was actually kind of surprised as I did not expect positive results.  I did a quick little jig and then proceeded to take a multitude of shots in the general area.

Click on the link to see more images of the Milky Way in Arches:  Arches National Park at Night at

I did not see another person until the light of dawn started to appear, then there was an influx of photographers entering the park to catch the sunrise.  I myself took some shots of the sunrise and headed back to Moab to get some rest. 

I really enjoyed that night, in fact I enjoyed it soo much that I got up at 11:00 p.m. the next Saturday and drove to Arches to take more images of the night sky in the park.

Click on the link to see beautiful images of Arches Natioanal Park: Arches National Park Photos at

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