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Arches National Park

Sunset over the Garden of the Gods, Arches National Park, Utah

Arches, Utah

The sun sets over the Garden of the Gods in Arches National Park, Utah. Garry McCarthy and I were in Utah for a few days of hiking and night photography. While we shot the sunset from this scenic point we bumped into night photography great Brad Goldpaint, a nice guy and exceptional photographer who was teaching a night photography workshop. It was a fine sunset which we followed it up with some night photography of nearby Balanced Rock and Double Arch. If you like this please check out more photos from Arches National Park. Cheers and thanks for looking!

Sunset over Garden of the Gods, Arches National Park

Sunset over Garden of the Gods, Arches National Park
Image ID: 29261
Location: Garden of the Gods, Arches National Park, Utah, USA

Icon: Sunset over Delicate Arch, Arches National Park, Utah

Arches, Icons, Utah

I unapologetically photograph a lot of icons and Delicate Arch is one of my favorites. There are few places in the United States that are more iconic than Delicate Arch in Arches National Park — it is depicted on a license plate for crying out loud. Places like this are iconic for good reason: they are beloved by Americans and foreigners alike and in many ways symbolize the spirit and beauty of the outdoors in the United States, the country that gave the idea of the “National Park” to the world. It is tough to break new photographic ground at icons and more than a few contemporary photographers scorn the idea of shooting at such places. I get it, and won’t argue. But I shoot everything and try to value the experience of being on site more than the result (which is usually flawed and falls short of the real thing). And I love National Park icons like Delicate Arch. I love the hike up to the arch (its quick with just enough incline to work up a sweat) and relaxing with the crowd that lingers to catch the end of the day around the arch. Most especially I love the stillness that surrounds Delicate Arch after daylight and the crowd has departed.

Delicate Arch at Sunset, Arches National Park

Delicate Arch at Sunset, Arches National Park
Image ID: 29283
Location: Delicate Arch, Arches National Park, Utah, USA

On the evening I shot this image of Delicate Arch, we were on site primarily to shoot the arch after dark. The sunset looked uninspiring and I had my iphone in my hand. Then a wisp of color began to form in the high clouds, catching color from the far western horizon, and I realized I needed a better camera. As dusk matured and the sky took on deeper shades of blue, more color lit the clouds with pastel pinks and purples. It lasted for a few minutes and then, as with the best of sunsets, it was gone quickly. It was a great prelude to the shooting we would do in the hours hence as night took over and myriad stars wheeled overhead, but that is the subject of another blog. If you like this, check out other photos of what I consider iconic photo subjects. Cheers and thanks for looking!

The Eyes of Utah – Natural Arches and the Milky Way

Arches, Astrophotography and Night Scapes, Utah

The Eyes of Utah? I think these two images look like “eyes”, at least to my eyes they do. The first one sort of looks like an evil serpent’s eye, while the second resembles a whale’s eye. (If you have never seen a whale up close, you’ll just have to trust me on that one.) Both of these arches are in Utah and are depicted here framing the Milky Way galaxy (“our” galaxy). My buddy Garry and I spent a long weekend photographing the night sky around Moab, Utah recently and these were two of my favorite images from the effort. We had to time our photography for when the Milky Way would be in the best position, since it rotates through the sky during the course of the night and can be anywhere from SE early in the evening to SW toward dawn. In each case I lit the surrounding arch with a bit of light to give some relief to the rocks. If you like these, check out my updated gallery of Arches National Park images, or my collection of Landscape Astrophotography. Cheers and thanks for looking!

Milky Way and Stars through Wilson Arch. Wilson Arch rises high above route 191 in eastern Utah, with a span of 91 feet and a height of 46 feet, Moab

Milky Way and Stars through Wilson Arch. Wilson Arch rises high above route 191 in eastern Utah, with a span of 91 feet and a height of 46 feet.
Image ID: 29275
Location: Wilson Arch, Moab, Utah, USA

Milky Way through North Window, Arches National Park

Milky Way through North Window, Arches National Park
Image ID: 29277
Location: North Window, Arches National Park, Utah, USA

Light Painting Delicate Arch, Utah

Arches, Astrophotography and Night Scapes

The first few times I photographed Delicate Arch in Utah’s Arches National Park, most of my compositions were close to the arch. After editing the results of my last visit to the park I resolved to make more distant compositions, for variety’s sake and to put the arch into its surroundings. I got the chance earlier this month. We spent an entire night at Delicate Arch, trying different compositions and light painting techniques, and this was one of my favorites from that effort. Cheers, and thanks for looking!

If you like this, please take a look at more Astrophotography Landscape images. Thanks to my friend Garry McCarthy for collaborating on some inventive and impactful light painting.

Delicate Arch, Milky Way and Iridium Flare at Night, Arches National Park, Utah

Arches, Astrophotography and Night Scapes, Utah

I have shot Arches National Park a number of times, including a very fruitful trip some years ago to shoot astrophotography landscapes. I returned earlier this month for more, and found that I have reached a point where I need to find alternatives to the usual compositions. This one was forced upon my buddy Garry and me. The clouds obscured some of the sky and blocked the obvious composition of the Milky Way over Delicate Arch, so I wandered about a little looking for different ways to portray the arch before dawn crept in and stole the stars away. The sky to the northeast was clear enough to show the northern, lesser arm of the Milky Way and with a little light painting I was able to juxtapose the arch and the galaxy. I got lucky when the Iridium flare, seen to the left of the arch, arrived in the right spot in the composition during the short, 15 second exposure. Cheers, and thanks for looking!

Photo of Delicate Arch and Milky Way, Hiker, Light Painting

Arches, Astrophotography and Night Scapes, Utah

Photo of Delicate Arch At Night and The Milky Way Galaxy, Arches National Park, Utah

I recently made a short trip to Arches National Park to do some photography. One of the photos I made is a self-portrait, showing me light painting Delicate Arch at dusk with the Milky Way galaxy rising in the sky. I took this photo of Delicate Arch almost as an afterthought, but I am sure glad I did since I suspect it may end up being the most popular image I made on the trip! Since I posted it in June it has had over 16 million views. (16 million! That is more than any other photo of mine, I am certain.) Over the years I have often put myself in my photos, primarily because I want a souvenir for my personal scrapbook rather than because I intend to market the image for publication. However, two self portraits I have made, both of which curiously involve natural stone arches, have been well received so I think I should do more of them in the future: “Mesa Arch Sunrise“, which won the landscape category of the National Wildlife Federation’s photography competition a few years ago, and “Heavenly Arch” which appeared as the photo of the day last year on Earthshots.org.

Delicate Arch and Milky Way, lit by quarter moon, hiker's flashlight and the fading blue sky one hour after sunset.  Arches National Park, Utah

Delicate Arch and Milky Way, lit by quarter moon, hiker’s flashlight and the fading blue sky one hour after sunset. Arches National Park, Utah.
Image ID: 27855
Location: Arches National Park, Utah, USA

At least four light sources are mixed in this image: fading dusk (sometimes called blue hour), quarter moon at camera right, starlight and milky way glow, and my uber-mondo handheld light. Everyone else had left at this point. After I made this image I sat down and ate my dinner in the quiet while waiting for the moon to set so that I could expose for the milky way properly. It was pleasant some hours later hiking back to the car in the dark with only the noise of my boots, bird chirps and darting rabbits to hear — no voices. I used the super-clean Canon 5D Mark III and the very sharp Nikon 14-24 to make this image, along with a few other tricky pieces of night photography equipment. Cheers and thanks for looking!

Here is another image, which is the one I set out to make, photographed a short while later:

Milky Way arches over Delicate Arch, as stars cover the night sky, Arches National Park, Utah

Milky Way arches over Delicate Arch, as stars cover the night sky.
Image ID: 27850
Location: Arches National Park, Utah, USA

Landscape Arch and Milky Way at Night, Arches National Park, Utah

Arches, Astrophotography and Night Scapes, Utah

Landscape Arch and Milky Way at Night, Arches National Park, Utah

Landscape Arch in Arches National Park, Utah, is considered to be the longest natural arch in the world, having a span of 290 feet (89m) . Landscape Arch is gradually falling apart, with at least three sections of the arch known to have fallen since 1991. I set out to photograph this amazing arch under the star-filled Utah sky and it turned out to be one of the most technically challenging nightscapes (nighttime landscape photos) I have made. Because the trail that formerly went under the arch is now closed (National Park lawyers know what is good for us better than we do), viewing of the arch is from several hundred feet away. That is a long distance to light at night. Furthermore, in order to use side lighting as a way of illustrating detail in the rock, I had to use remotely controlled equipment since I was working alone. After two nights of experimentation, I managed to make four keeper images, of which this is my favorite. This image was shot with the technically excellent combination of Canon 5D Mark III and Nikon 14-24 lens so it is very sharp and clean while still freezing the glorious Milky Way galaxy (the galaxy in which we live) in the sky above the arch. If you like this image, please see my website devoted to my full collection of Landscape Astrophotography images. Thanks for looking!

Landscape Arch and Milky Way galaxy.  Stars rise over Landscape arch at night, filling the Utah sky, while the arch is gently lit by a hiker's light, Arches National Park

Landscape Arch and Milky Way galaxy. Stars rise over Landscape arch at night, filling the Utah sky, while the arch is gently lit by a hiker’s light.
Image ID: 27869
Location: Arches National Park, Utah, USA

Also seen on my Landscape Astrophotography website: Landscape Arch and Milky Way at Night, Arches National Park, Utah.