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

  • edwademd 4y

    Nice light!
  • Richard Mitchell PRO 4y

    This is really fantastic and really creative. Thanks for all of the details on the lighting! The contrasting colors of the sky and the arch work so well together, and the darkness in the lower left is mysterious and a perfect counter to the brighter parts of the image!
  • Yana Morozov 4y

    Amazing shot!
  • tom schaus 4y

  • carmen Cordero Olivares 4y

    Me encanta su galería.
  • Bill Gracey PRO 4y

    A beautiful artistic and technical achievement. Very fine work. I saw this in Larry's gallery.
  • Scott Law PRO 4y

    Clearly you have done the homework to create the most glowing image of Delicate Arch that I have seen. This is a glorious image! I have been there twice and the second time stayed until after dark with a photographer friend and did some night shots using flash lights, but, of course achieved nothing even close to what you achieved here. Thanks VERY MUCH for the detailed explanation Royce.
  • Nick Sanford 3y

    Amazing how you lit that.
  • ouistitis PRO 3y

    +1 : Superb serie !
  • Theodore C 3y

    "and I will walk around and set off all the flashes"

    thats really really creative, i was wondering how you get such amazing lighting, really creative
  • J 3y

    Excellent production and night sky.
  • Mat texturonline 3y

    Perfect !!
  • Ian Hayhurst PRO 3y

    What a huge effort, I enjoyed reading aboutit on strobist, even better to see it's one of many such beauties
  • Michael Menefee PRO 3y

    Awesome Royce! Really fun ideas on the light sources too, it's pretty cool how creativity turns on high when we are doing things we are passionate about!
  • AZ Imaging PRO 3y

    Splendid capture.
  • Andy Tony 3y

    well done ,you made a good work . I want to do this too. I have bought a flashlight(Torch Led Flashlight), I don't know how i can do it.
  • JoeCow 2y

    I seriously like your photographs! :) <3
  • Anthony Mann 2y

    Wow, nice! Thanks for the detailed explanation on how you did it, too - that is so helpful for us beginners. I also commend you in your description about protecting natural resources while getting your shots; all landscape photographers should be stewards for these places like you are!
  • Jesse Lazaro PRO 2y

    Cool Shot!
305 faves
Taken on September 6, 2012
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