Arches National Park: Delicate Arch Sunset

Arches national Park is a red-rock wonderland in Southern Utah. The park has over 2,000 natural stone arches, in addition to hundreds of soaring pinnacles, massive fins and giant balanced rocks.

The hike to Delicate Arch is a 3.1 round trip hike with a 480 foot climb. It’s rated moderate.

The hike is very popular and you will almost never have the place to yourself.

If your mission is to have a great hike you cannot go wrong in any kind of reasonable weather. But if your goal is to get a great image things are much more difficult. You need good light with good clouds. You need to be at the top about an hour before sunset.

Hopefully there will not be too many people milling around or you have to edit them out in Photoshop.

Wait. There’s more. The arch is in shadow of mountains at sunset starting mid-April.

I took this panorama on April 13. You can see the shadows closing in to the right and in the foreground up to the base of the arch.

Feature Image Details

I took 8 images, overlapped heavily, and stiched then together in Lightroom.

I used a Canon 16-35MM F4 L Lens at 28 mm, F16, for 1/13 of a second.

One Vertical Frame

Normally I do not chop off the key element like this but it really doesn’t matter. I can crop the Panorama however I like.

The Featured image is significantly cropped. Here is the full panorama.

Pano Tip

It’s far easier to cut out what you do not want than add what you didn’t capture.

Since you are combining images, you will end up with a huge number of pixels even when the final result is cropped.

I frequently take vertical images to make what looks like a horizontal image.

Arches National Park Images

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Arches National Park: Landscape Arch Glorious Sunrise

Arches national Park is a red-rock wonderland in Southern Utah. The park has over 2,000 natural stone arches, in addition to hundreds of soaring pinnacles, massive fins and giant balanced rocks.

Landscape Arch is in the “Devil’s Garden” section of the park.

Like the “Windows” section, “Devils Garden” is very popular and it can be difficult to find a parking spot at times.

Fortunately, the best time to photograph this arch is at sunrise and in contrast to the Windows, you can often have the view to yourself.

Feature Image Details

I scrambled up underneath the arch at sunrise. The composition is a single frame with a Canon 11-24 F4.0 L lens at 11 mm. This shot only woks at extreme wide angles with a full frame sensor. 16mm or even 14 mm is not wide enough.

The shot was taken at ISO 500 at F16, for 1/20 of a second.

Those familiar with the park will note that I was not on the trail. With reservations, I followed an informal trail to the top. Don’t bother without an extreme wide angle lens and excellent light.

Landscape Arch Panorama 

For the above composition, I blended six overlapping images together in Lightroom with a Canon 24-105MM F4 L Lens at 24mm.

The images are all ISO 200, at F13, for 1/20th second.

It’s a struggle to get such an image in one shot. You can do it with a wide angle lens in landscape mode but only by pointing up and dealing with distortions.

It’s better to take a vertical panorama to minimize the distortions while increasing the number of pixels used and thus increasing the overall resolution.

One Vertical Frame

I cropped off the right and the bottom but the overall result is a whopping 8322×4303 pixel image taking 114 MB in disk space.

Pano Tip

It’s far easier to cut out what you do not want than add what you didn’t capture.

Since you are combining images, you will end up with a huge number of pixels even when the final result is cropped.

I frequently take vertical images to make what looks like a horizontal image.

For another example of this technique, please see my previous post Arches National Park: Turret Arch Viewed Through North Window

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Arches National Park: Turret Arch Viewed Through North Window

Arches national Park is a red-rock wonderland in Southern Utah. The park has over 2,000 natural stone arches, in addition to hundreds of soaring pinnacles, massive fins and giant balanced rocks.

The “Windows Section” of the park is the most popular area., You will not be alone in this section of the park except perhaps at 3:00 AM and not even then if there are night photographers.

Feature Image Details

This is a panoramic image. I used six different images blended together in Lightroom.

For this set of images I used a Canon 16-35MM F4 L Lens.

If I had to pick one lens and one lens only, this lens would be at the top of the list. I see things from a wide angle perspective.

The images are all ISO 200, at 17MM, F16, for 1/50th second.

Vision and Timing

Ignoring the panoramic blending the hardest part of this image is being where you need to be at the right time.

This is a classic shot, and to pull it off you need to be in the right place.

  1. Walk through the North Window, resisting the temptation to photograph the sunrise.
  2. Scramble up the rocks on the other side to frame Turret Arch
  3. Be there early enough to get a good spot
  4. Pray for good light and clouds

Points 1-3 are within your control. Point 4 isn’t. I went to this spot on at least 6 times on at least four trips with one success, my last one.

Without clouds, you are starting off with a questionable picture, With too many clouds you might get dull grey.

In regards to point 3, I was at the spot I wanted to be at least 40 minutes before sunrise.

I was too late. One person beat me to the one and only spot one can take this complete panorama sequence. He was from Germany.

The odd thing is, he had the only spot to take a panorama, but he was taking a close up that included no sky. This is a good idea with poor clouds, but a poor idea with good clouds.

I got the shot bu being patient. When the sun hit, a bit after sunrise, I asked my German fellow if he would move his tripod to allow me to complete my pano sequence.

He gave me 30 seconds. The image below is the result. I cropped the result for the lead image.

Full Pano Image

One Vertical Frame

That is one vertical frame in my sequence.

Interestingly, I frequently take vertical images to make what looks like a horizontal image.

Equipment List

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

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More Arches images coming up.

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Mike “Mish” Shedlock