Milky Way at The Bonsai Tree

I've been out in Utah for a few days now in Zion National Park.  The focus of the trip here was primarily night skies...and the conditions are perfect for it!

Here's an image of the milky way from the first scene we stopped to shoot it at.  I'm not sure this area even has a name, but we have called it "the bonsai tree".  This little tree hanging off the side of this boulder makes for a good image anytime, but when the milky way rises in the valley between the two "mountains", it is a sight to see!

Manual Exposure Mode, 30 seconds, F/2.8, ISO 3200, 15mm

Photographing the milky way is super easy!  The hardest part is doing the research to figure out the time and position of it in relation to your subject.  The camera settings are easy...manual mode, 30 second shutter speed, ISO 3200 and set your aperture as wide open as your lens will allow.

This image was made with my Canon 5D III and Tamron 15-30mm Lens.  All resting atop my Sirui N-3204X and K-30 Ballhead.

Delicate Arch

One of the places on the list while we were in Moab, UT was Delicate Arch.  It is a 65 foot tall, freestanding arch and can be found in Arches National Park.  Finding it does require a 3 mile round trip hike that gains 480 ft in elevation.  It also gets very hot here, but we got a break on our hike up for was only in the high 80's and on our way back down it rained on us, which we welcomed at the time.

Aperture Priority, 1/100th second, F/11, ISO 100, 51mm

I shot this at "sunset". I put sunset in quotes because you really can't shoot this at sunset.  A shadow starts to come in and block the arch the closer you get to the actual sunset time.  Once that shadow starts to creep in your scene, the shooting is pretty much over.  We also had to deal with an enormous amount of people here.  People were all over the place.  They were lined up in a long line to take turns to have their picture made under the arch.  Trying to snap shots around the people was the biggest challenge.  

 I made this image with my Canon 5D III and Tamron 24-70mm Lens resting atop my Sirui tripod and K-40X ballhead.

Mesa Arch Glow

As promised yesterday, I'm sharing the image of Mesa Arch lit up underneath.  I promise this is the last one I will be sharing before moving onto a different subject.

This is the reason people line up in the dark to shoot here.  On the opposite side of this arch is about a 1200 foot drop.  That drop is part of what is known as a "bowl" in the rocks. When the sun rises, it hits that bowl directly and the reflected light lights up the underside of the arch with this nice, warm light.  It is something to see, for sure.

Aperture Priority, 1/10th second, F/16, ISO 100, 15mm

If you look closely at this image, in the distance you can see a formation known as Washer Woman.  Washer Woman is actually a desert tower and an arch.  It gives the illusion that a woman is reaching her hands into a tub.  The "woman" part of the formation creates the tower and the "reaching into the tub" part creates the arch.

This image was made with my Canon 5D Mk III and Tamron 15-30mm Lens resting atop my Sirui Tripod and K-40X Ballhead.


Another From Mesa Arch

What a week last week was!  First, it started in Moab, UT in Arches National Park and Canyonland National Park, then a long drive up to Pinedale, WY to tour the Wind River Mountain Range, finally on to Jackson for the next 5 days for our workshop in Grand Teton National Park.  It was a week of almost no sleep and no reliable internet, so you didn't hear from me much at all.  It was also a blast!

Last week I shared an image with you form Mesa Arch.  That one was just after that sun had risen above the horizon.  This image was before that.  The sky and clouds are awesome but the arch hadn't lit up underneath just yet.  I'll show you that one tomorrow ;).

If you ever get the chance to shoot this scene at sunrise, get there early!  We were there at 3:30 am.  There is only about 8 feet or so of "prime" real estate to shoot from so you need to be there first to get it.  After sunrise and we packed up to leave there were at least 100 other people behind us.  Not all of them were photographers, but we couldn't have photographed with them in front of us regardless.

Aperture Priority, F/8, ISO 100, 5 seconds.

Image captured with my Canon 5D Mk III and Tamron 15-30mm Lens.  That combo was resting atop my Sirui tripod and K-40X Ballhead.

Mesa Arch

Tomorrow we start our workshop in The Grand Teton National Park, but we arrived a few days early to visit a few other places before the workshop begins.

One of the places we wanted to visit was Mesa Arch in Cayonlands National Park.  It is a very iconic arch and probably the most photographed thing in the park.  It is located in what is called The Island in The Sky district of the park.  It is very easy to get to as it is only about 1/4 mile from the parking area along a well maintained trail, which is probably why we were soon joined by about 100 of our closest friends for the sunrise shoot, most of them iPad shooters, however.

Just to the other side of the arch is a 1200 foot drop into Buck Canyon. This creates a "bowl" and what happens is when the sun rises and reflects off of that "bowl" it lights the underside of Mesa Arch up glowing red...more of those shots to come ;)

This shot was taken after I got some sunrise images from the "iconic" few just to the left of where I am standing now.  Some of the crowd started to disperse and I tried a few quick compositions before wrapping up and leaving.   I am always a sucker for a sun star, so I tried it from a few different angles.  This was one of my favorites, although there were many from this particular morning.

Aperture Priority, F/11, ISO 100, 1/40th second shutter speed, 15mm

This image was shot using a Canon 5D Mk III and Tamron 15-30mm Lens.  This setup was all mounted on my Sirui N-3204X Tripod and K-30 Ballhead.