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Night Exposure - Delicate Arch

Guest Post By: Royce Bair

Delicate Arch, Arches National Park. This NightScape was taken with three artificial lights. This photo was taken with the Mamiya 6x7cm camera, using film. My more current NightScapes use digital technology that allow me to also include star constellations and the Milky Way (see photo, below).

Photo By Royce Bair

How we did it:

There were three lights used in this 10-minute time exposure: 1.) two Meggaflash pf300 in a 12-inch polished reflector, coming from camera left; 2.) eight flashes within the arch coming from a Norman 400B portable strobe (firing at the 200 watt-seconds setting), covered with a yellow-gold Rosco gel filter; and 3.) 40 flashes coming from camera right via a Norman 400B portable strobe (firing at the 200 watt-seconds setting), covered with a red-magenta Rosco gel filter. We are rarely able to get more than one or two photographs each evening. Flash exposures are pre-calculated (based on distance). All flashes are fired during the 10-minuted time exposure (for the sky). We typically start the time exposure about one hour after sunset. This gives us the colour of blue in the sky that we like.

Typically, my wife Linda or one of my sons, will open the shutter (using the "bulb" setting) at my command (often using a radio to communicate), and I will walk around and set off all the flashes. This has to be practised in the daylight since I cannot use a flash light to guide me. Firing the flashes within the arch was the most critical and dangerous, since I had to be hidden behind the arch's right fin, but not venture far enough to fall off the ledge behind it (which drops several hundred feet)!

Getting permission:

People often ask if one has to get permission to take a complicated night photo like this. The answer is "no", if you are not doing a commercial shoot (otherwise, you must get park permission and post a bond). You also must be careful not to harm the park features. Another photographer light fires a few years ago near this arch (to create a dramatic lighting effect) and caused damage to the feature.
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