You must have figured it out by now that we are obsessed with Arches. I mean just think about it. A place so versatile where you cannot waste a single moment in day thinking you might miss any angle of this nature’s masterpiece. And night you do not want to sleep and slip on the limitless photography opportunities that this park provides. Atleast my Mr. Perfectionist did not want to miss any such chance what so ever. So with a broken back, full camera equipment and a Mustang, we decided to spend the entire night chasing milky way and light painting a.k.a Night Photography at Arches National Park .
If you are keen in doing night photography at Arches and new to this area , here are few suggestions – cum – tips.
First and foremost gear list :
1) You will need an advanced camera (i know that is obvious) that allows full manual exposure control of aperture, shutter speed and ISO. We used Canon 6D and 60D. But here are few others that might interest you or I may say our recomendations .
Nikon : Nikon 610 , Nikon D800 , Nikon D810 , Nikon D4S
Canon: Canon 6D ,Canon 5D mark ii ,Canon 5d Mark iii
Cropped Sensor Cameras : Canon 7D Mark ii , Canon 70 D , Fuji XT1
2) If you are already set on camera, to go with it , you will need a good, fast-aperture wide-angle lens. Why? Because a slow lens will reseult in grainy photos. For most part of night photography we used Rokinon 14 mm 2.8 and Canon EF 16-35 mm Ultra Wide Angle Zoom Lens……but here are few other recommendations :
Nikon : Nikon 14-24 2.8 , Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 24mm f/1.4G
Canon : Canon EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM Lens , Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM Ultra Wide Angle Zoom Lens
Rokinon : Rokinon 14mm 2.8 , Rokinon 24mm f/1.4 , Rokinon 16mm 2.0
3) Since you will be shooting long exposure shots , you will definetly need a sturdy tripod. We love the tripod from MeFoto…. This tripod is just so perfect weightwise. It is neither too heavy , so you can take it with you on long hikes and nor is it flimsy that would shake in light wind.
4) There are few more things that you just cannot miss : Wired Intervalometer ( because you do not want to touch your camera), a medium to high speed SD/CF card (usually 30 mbps or higher) , speedlight with color gels and a headlamp.
5) If you specifically intend to capture milky-way , you must have an app to track the rise of galaxy in night time. PhotoPills is a great sky map app available for iphone users. For android you can use Google Sky Map.
Location and Other Considerations :
1) Arches National Park is big, so you definitely need to plan things ahead and scout the locations in advance. I will definitely advice to visit the site in day time once just so that it gets easy for you to navigate at night time.
2) One is alone , two is a company, and in this case a team. If you have a partner, take them along , you will need their help in a lot of things.
3) There are many companies in Arches that do photography tours specially for night photography. If you are serious about it and new to night photography , book a tour with them.
Nerd Herd ( Focus/ISO/Speed) :
1) A full frame sensor gives the best in camera result. Though due to recent advancements crop sensor have become pretty good. If you don’t necessarily have a top notch camera , people have got excellent results from Sky tracker equipment().
2) Focusing is always a issue at night. You will need to turn off the autofocus ( remember camera cannot focus on the dim lights at night ). and turn on the live view and work your way down to required focus from infinity.
3) Never be afraid to push the limits of modern camera. For ISO anywhere from 3200 to 6400 will give a pretty good result. ISO settings will also depends on the photo enlargement prints you may wish. so do keep that in mind too..
4 ) The Shutter Speed is very important aspect of night photography and it depends on the lens and camera choice. Set you intervalometer to desired time from the table below. For a crisp sharp image the shutter speed is determined by the 500 Rule.
For eg: for a 24 mm lens on a full frame sensor : 500/24 = 20 sec approx before the Star trails start appearing in image (Earth is constantly rotating remember 😀 ) 14 mm will give you 500/14 = 35 sec approx of time.
You can use my cheat-sheet if that helps :
|No.||Lens (mm) Length||Full Frame- secs||Crop Sensor (1.5) – secs||Crop Sensor (1.6) -secs|
So I guess that is a wrap 😉 .. I hope you enjoyed the pictures and the tips we shared will come handy to you. If you have any questions email to us or leave us a comment , we will be happy to answer your queries. We will love to hear about your photography experiences at Arches National Park. If you do not want to miss any updates from us… subscribe to our blog :). Thank you for stopping by. Happy Travels!!
PhotoCredits : PhotoStains
absolutely stunning! Amazing photography ..xoxo
Thanks so much
Wow… just WOW. These photos are amazing! I should definitely start learning more about my Canon’s settings and lens. Thank you so much for this post and for taking the time to put all the details in! I’ve already bookmarked it for future reference. 😉
THank you for stopping by. do let me know when you plan to visit Arches.
Stunning photos and great tips. You captured an incredible area of the world beautifully.
Thank you so much for the kind words.. have you been to Utah ?
Gorgeous photos from a gorgeous place! I’ve never been to Arches, but the other day I was talking to my son about going somewhere away from the cities to see the stars better. Maybe we’ll make it to Arches some day.
I was just experimenting with some night photography of my own in Havasu Falls! Yours came out outstanding.. especially love the third shot!
Thank you so much for the kind words. My personal fav is the last one.
I’m sure I don’t need to tell you this but your photography is AMAZING. We just purchased our first DSLR and got a Nikon D5300, hoping to start shooting some better quality photos and learn more about night photography. We’ve been using a Canon Powershot SX50 until now which has been awesome in sunlight but sucks at night. Thanks for the inspiration!!
Thank you so much for the kind words… Do let me know how does your experience with Nikon D5300 go… For any help and assistance we are here
I usually just take pictures with my smartphone so I am by no means a photography guru. Your shots are inspiring and remarkable. Glad I saw them.
par-excellence photography. Man behind the machine really matters
Thank you.. you know him 😉
Can you please recommend some tour companies? I would love to do this (as I had in Zion), but I will need a good teacher. I have the necessary equipment. Thanks
Sorry for late reply but I will definitely get back to you on this.
hello, i’m going to arches np the beginning of june and would love to photograph and time lapse the milky way. have never time lapsed before but was able to get some of the milky way in atacama desert in the past. i just got photopill and i’m just trying to learn how to use it. i will be hiking arches during the day and at night doing the sunset at delicate arch. then going for dinner and resting. but at night i would like to take some photos, but don’t want to do a long hike to delicate. any recommendations for other arches that are photographic that are easier to get to? also if you have a guides name for me too i may like to use one especially for first time time lapse? thanks, ming
Hope this message finds you just in time. Double arch and north and south arches are easily accessible and are very photogenic at night. Other than that balanced rock looks amazing too with the galaxy.
Wow! Wow! Wowww!! I am a great fan of Utah. Would love to camp and gaze the night sky and live the amazing experience.
Oooh definetly , when are you planning to go