Delicate Arch Redux

I first hiked up to Delicate Arch in Arches National Park in October 2013. I was on my way to a photography workshop and wanted to cover some ground on my own. You can read a little about that first trip up to this cool place in this blog post. I'm glad I made the trek that day, because the very next day, the boneheads in Washington shut down the government and closed all the national parks. 

On this trip, I was on my way to meet some photography friends in Capitol Reef National Park, and wanted to spend a day in Moab. The evening looked good for a sunset, so I figured why not make the 3 mile round trip hike again. As usual, the scenery was incredible on this hike up through the petrified sand dunes.

Upon arriving at the overlook for the arch, the scene was much the same as it was the last time I was there. This is a really popular place, especially at sunset, so if you go during the height of tourist season, you'll spend some quality time with at least a hundred of your closest friends. My friend Bob calls this an "infestation". I would have to agree. The photo below gives some idea, although it doesn't really show the crowd. Most people sit or stand along a rock ledge just to the left of this image waiting for the golden light of sunset to light up the sandstone arch. A few dozen others take turns getting their portraits taken or snap a selfie in the archway.

I can't blame them, really, for it is a neat place, and those selfies probably make good profile pics for their social media sites. Of course, this makes things difficult for those of us trying to get a nice landscape image of the arch with the La Sal Mountains in the background. Some people get a little impatient and voice their displeasure, but those "non-photographer" don't really understand. 

Thankfully, there is Photoshop to help us politely remove the tourists. Either by taking several identical images and masking the people out or just using the healing brush tool, the photo can look like you were the only one there. It just takes a little more time.

On this trip, I decided to stick around after sunset to try some star trail photography. Most of the crowd left, but there were a few who stuck around with similar ideas. Since the moon would be rising soon, I had to set up and work quickly to get several images that I was happy with. I decided to move down into the bowl below the arch for a slightly different composition. The image below shows the arch and a few stars as the full moon was about the come up from behind the rocks. The arch and some of the rocks around it were being lit up by people with their flashlights.

Finally, the finished star trail image, composed of a total of about 60 photos. The photos were stacked together in a free software program call StarStax, which does a pretty good job. These images are a lot of fun to create and it's always interesting to see the patterns that the star trails make. More to follow as we move on to Capitol Reef, so come on back real soon!