Delicate Arch - night exposure

Delicate Arch, Arches National Park. This NightScape was taken with three artificial lights. This photo was taken with the Mamiya 6x7cm camera, using film. My more current NightScapes use digital technology that allow me to also include star constellations and the Milky Way (see photo, below).


How we did it: There were three lights used in this 10-minute time exposure: 1.) two Meggaflash pf300 in a 12-inch polished reflector, coming from camera left; 2.) eight flashes within the arch coming from a Norman 400B portable strobe (firing at the 200 watt-seconds setting), covered with a yellow-gold Rosco gel filter; and 3.) 40 flashes coming from camera right via a Norman 400B portable strobe (firing at the 200 watt-seconds setting), covered with a red-magenta Rosco gel filter. We are rarely able to get more than one or two photographs each evening. Flash exposures are pre-calculated (based on distance). All flashes are fired during the 10-minuted time exposure (for the sky). We typically start the time exposure about one hour after sunset. This gives us the color of blue in the sky that we like.


For additional information, read this Strobist Magazine article.


Typically, my wife Linda or one of my sons, will open the shutter (using the "bulb" setting) at my command (often using a radio to communicate), and I will walk around and set off all the flashes. This has to be practiced in the daylight since I cannot use a flashlight to guide me. Firing the flashes within the arch was the most critical and dangerous, since I had to be hidden behind the arch's right fin, but not venture far enough to fall off the ledge behind it (which drops several hundred feet)!


Getting permission: People often ask if one has to get permission to take a complicated night photo like this. The answer is "no", if you are not doing a commercial shoot (otherwise, you must get park permission and post a bond). You also must be careful not to harm the park features. Another photographer light fires a few years ago near this arch (to create a dramatic lighting effect) and caused damage to the feature.


My new ebook, Milky Way NightScapes, gives extensive details on how to enhance the landscape foreground. Three other chapters cover planning, scouting, forecasting star/landscape alignment, shooting and post processing.


Behind the scenes: The NightScape Story (includes additional, how-to stuff).

Please visit my photostream every Thursday to see a new ''NightScape'' image.

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Free Milky Way NightScapes Seminar in your city. Find out how your camera club or photo organization can get me to speak and teach in your area, during my 2015 multi-city tour.


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2012/04/11 4289v 91c 155f 14g

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Taken on September 6, 2012