White Pocket, Vermilion Cliffs National Monument, Milky Way

In July, my wife Liz and I escaped Illinois for beautiful Utah.

This image is from Arizona, in a trip this past May.

I made plans for a Kanab, UT Nightscape Conference in May that was canceled due to Covid. I decided to go anyway and spent one night in the White Pocket area of the Vermilion Cliffs National Monument in Arizona.

I was also investigating details about our planned move to Utah.

That is a composite image but a realistic one. The Milky Way is in the proper position. I scouted out this location in the daylight looking for a high position where the Milky Way would be visible at night.

The land image was taken in the last fleeting seconds of sunset. The Milky Way is as it appeared hours later.

The landscape and sky are both panoramic blends so I have an enormous number of pixels.

We tried light painting at night, but this blend at the last moment of sunset looks more realistic than any attempts at light painting.

When you are hundreds of yards away trying to position small lights to improve a scene, “blue hour” blends work much better and look more realistic.

Image Just Before Sunset

That is what the scene looked a few minutes before the lead image. Everything was fiery red. The location is slightly different but not more than 15 feet away.

It was that very last few seconds where the light only hit the peaks and the neutral white came through that made the difference.

There are no filters on these shots.

Rock Fins


I am in a precarious position for that shot. I did not want to fall nor did I want to touch any of the fins and break them.

I used a Canon 11-24 F4.0 L lens for that image. I am just inches away from the fins, high up, on a very steep perch.

I only had one night at White Pocket. The sunrise light was flat and uneventful.  I will go back. There is lots more to explore.

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3 thoughts on “White Pocket, Vermilion Cliffs National Monument, Milky Way

  1. Great shots! I especially like the night photo of the Milky Way. Years ago my wife and I were vacationing on Lake Powell and we were looking forward to doing a bit of star gazing. Unfortunately our trip was planned during the time of a full moon, which limited views of the stars.

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