Canyonlands National Park: Grand View Overlook Clouds and Full Moon

The Grand View overlook is a short walk from your car.

Visually, it’s a fantastic view any time. Photographically speaking is another matter.

Plan the Shot

I was at Grand View hours after sunset. My goal was to capture a moonlit scene.

That I did. But I did not have my star-tracker with me. It did not occur to me that I could possibly need it given that photographing stars under full moon conditions is not in the norm.

Live and learn.

Feature Image Details

This is a panorama composite of seven images. There were huge cumulus clouds illuminated by a full moon.

Even still, my exposure was 2 minutes, beautifully blurring the clouds, but also making the stars streak.

I used a Canon 16-35MM F4 L Lens at 20mm, F7.1, for 2 minutes at ISO 800 for all the shots.

Cloud Movement

I like the cloud movement. Two minutes seems about right.

Perhaps four minutes would be better. Perhaps not.

I had one shot at this as this group of clouds and they did not repeat.

Clear skies followed.

With my iOptron SkyGuider Pro, I could have captured the scene without blurring the stars.

However, by tracking the stars, I would have blurred the land. Thus, I would have needed to take two sets of images, one for the land and one for the sky.

Given the speed of the clouds and the time it would have taken to setup my equipment, perhaps the perfect image was not realistically possible.

Alternatively, I showed this image to another professional who liked the clouds and stars for their synchronous movement.

It may be difficult to see what I describe. Here is a screen snip of a a tiny portion of the image.

Star Blur Movement

The maximum exposure time to capture stars without movement is governed by the equation: E = 400/FL.

  • E = Exposure time in seconds
  • 400 is a constant derived by experience.
  • FL = Focal Length of the lens in MM

I was at 20 mm. Thus my maximum exposure time without stars streaking was 20 seconds.

I exposed for 2 minutes. Thus, I had significant streaking.

Some may like it in this shot. Some won’t. I suspect most won’t care at all.

Other Canyonlands Images

Mesa Arch, Murphy Point, and the Grand View Overlook are all easy hikes.


If you are at the Canyonlands Island in the Sky district, then Arches National Park is nearby.

For most, it’s probably the reverse, visiting Arches then going to Canyonlands as a side trip.

Arches National Park Images

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Those interested in my equipment and recommendations can find it here: Mish’s Equipment List.

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One thought on “Canyonlands National Park: Grand View Overlook Clouds and Full Moon

  1. I liked the big western vista. Clouds make it pop. Blurry stars…meh..Not so much. Reminds me of taking shot on ski slopes with snow flurries coming down.

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