Delicate Arch - Arches National Park, Utah
Planetary Silhouette Stands Against Cosmic Wonders
In one 30-second exposure lightning and light pollution from Moab illuminate the clouds passing over the silhouette of Utah’s Delicate Arch. Above the clouds, hundreds of stars twinkle in the sky.
I used a wide angle lens to capture Delicate Arch against the night sky. Under the darkness, I was in awe.
The 45 foot-high arch perched at an elevation of approximately 4,800 feet looked tiny compared to the universe. I wanted to give my image the same perspective I experienced sitting under the expansive sky soaking in the stars, meteors, iridium flares, and lightning and a storm in the distance.
I was with a group of seven photographers lead by Brad Goldpaint. Besides flashlights and headlamps there were no lights up on the slickrock.
A brisk wind ahead of an approaching storm whipped around us on our perch. I sat shivering on the sandstone tethered to my tripod and camera so the wind wouldn’t blow over my equipment while I was capturing a series of images for a time-lapse. This is one of the images in the series. I was terrified to move away from my equipment - afraid that the wind would blow it over. I didn’t want a D600 and 14 to 24mm lens to end up 50 to 70 feet away at the bottom of the steep circular sandstone bowl under Delicate Arch.
About 30 minutes before the Milky Way was to rise, the storm blew over the high desert and forced us off of our perch. Just after midnight, we hiked down the sandstone slickrock in a thunderstorm that rattled the surrounding canyons.
The one-and-a-half mile hike up to Delicate Arch to photograph the sandstone natural wonder against the night sky was a personal triumph and a spiritual journey for me. I suffer from fibromyalgia, asthma and the year before my trip I spent six months on crutches and in physical therapy after I had surgery on my left knee. The experience was exhilarating. The Kentucky Foundation for Women helped to fund my trip and workshop.
Post processed in Camera Raw, Photoshop CS6, Lightroom and On One PhotoTools.
NikonD600, Nikon 14-24 f/2.8, Phottix wireless digital timer and remote and tripod