Friday, June 15, 2012

Photographing Delicate Arch in Arches National Park

If you have ever been to Delicate Arch located in Arches National Park, Utah, you were probably not alone.  I have hiked up to see and photograph the arch many times.  I have been there for the sunrise, sunset and in the middle of the day and have witnessed the Arch during all four seasons.  Only once have I been there when no one else was around.  The Arch is a very famous and popular attraction and one of Utah's Icons, it even adorns Utah license plates.  Being such a popular attraction, it is very difficult to take photos of the Arch without people getting in the shot.  On one evening at the Arch, we counted more than 200 visitors.

Pretty much everyone that goes there wants to get a photo taken of them standing inside the Arch.  This tends to make it somewhat difficult for the purest landscape photographer to take a photo of the Arch.  Though you can get some interesting shots of the Arch with people in the image. 

Delicate Arch has amazed me with how many different views that you can capture in an image.  Most photographs that I have seen of Delicate Arch are of the evening light and sunset and of what I refer to as the popular view.  What I think of as my best image of Delicate Arch was taken in the evening and is of the popular view. 

I believe that the time of year has a lot to do with the quality of the image of the Arch.  The summer is hot and my photos tend to have less contrast and appear to be washed.   My favorite time of the year to take pictures in Arches and Canyonlands is during the winter months, especially if there is snow in the photo.  The snow contrasts well with the red rock.  If you take pictures of Delicate Arch on a clear winter evening you can frame the sunlit - snow covered - La Sal Mountains in the background and through the Arch.  Around the time of the Winter Solstice you can capture the sun setting inside of the Arch (see my previous blog post - A Little Known Delicate Arch Photo Opportunity).  Early on a winter morning you can capture a beautiful sunrise over the La Sal Mountains.

After the sunrise you can capture beautiful photos of the morning light on the Arch.

Mind you it was 13 degrees outside when I captured the last two images.  But, it was the one time that I had the Arch all to myself for three hours, an amazing experience. 

Delicate Arch is always a fabulous location to visit and photograph any time of the day or year.  It can sometimes take patience to capture an image of the Arch without another visitor in the photo.  I have been there when photographers have requested a minute or two of the Arch standing alone all by itself and it actually worked, they got their minute for photos. 

I don't remember how many times that I have visited the Arch or how many photos I have taken of the Icon.  What I do know is that I am not done visiting the Arch or capturing the Arch and possibly visitors in an Image. 

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