Delicate Arch and Milky Way (Arches N.P.)
On my recent trip to the Southwest, I made sure to included several days within Arches NP, as it had been too many years since my last visit.
I wanted to make sure I spent some time with Delicate and the Milky Way on this tour. So, after researching it in the PhotoPills app, I found that it would be in an almost a perfect position over Delicate Arch and somewhat flatter in the sky. When we woke that morning at around 2am, the stars were out and I was pumped that things were lining up to catch the Milky Way and Delicate Arch together. After hiking up the trail in pretty much darkness, we arrived around 3:30ish, which gave me a few hours to play with Delicate and the Milky Way. Even though I had my F&V HDV-Z96 in my pack to light Delicate Arch, a small group was already at the location and lit the arch perfectly. I told them thanks for the under light and starting photographing the scene.
Now, this is where things got fun. I had been working on stacking images over the off season in preparation for capturing the Milky Way on this trip (to be able to capture pinpoint stars and remove noise in post). So, I started my game plan. Cranked my ISO to 12,800 with f/2.8 and 8 seconds (to keep the stars pinpoint). I captured stacks of between 5-10 images throughout my time with Delicate and the stars. I also would end each sequence with a longer 2-minute exposure at ISO 3200, to get some detail in the foreground, then would capture a 25-second exposure at ISO 3200 (just in case the stacking didn’t work out). Final 10-image stack was combined in Starry Landscape Stacker. I then blended the 120-second image of Delicate Arch to bring out the details of the foreground.