American Southwest Day 2: Shooting the Milky Way at Delicate Arch 精緻拱門健行拍銀河

Being featured on Utah license plates, Delicate Arch is probably the most recognized landmark and most photographed natural wonder in the Arches National Park.

猶他州的車牌是這個紅色砂岩精緻拱門(Delicate Arch),大概是拱門國家公園最著名的地標也是最多人拍的景點。

On the second day of the road trip, we drove around the Upper Colorado River Scenic Byway and then cooked dinner at the bnb. Later in the afternoon, we drove into the Arches National Park to hike the Delicate Arch trail and shoot the Milky Way.

During our three-day stay in Moab, we kept racing with time. There were so many beautiful sites around Moab and sadly, only one sunset, one sunrise and one night time per day. It was impossible to squeeze in my photography wish list in less than three days. Being greedy myself and traveling with my overly ambitious dad, we pushed ourselves and I was sleep deprived the whole time. After a full day of traveling and hiking, we shot the Milky Way, got back to our place at 1:30 am, and then turned around to head out for sunrise at 4am! I wished I had 48 hours a day. There was not enough time to space out in our lovely Airbnb!

這天下午悠哉逛了科羅拉多河景觀道路又回民宿吃完晚餐之後,傍晚開進拱門國家公園,要去精緻拱門朝聖和拍銀河。

待在Moab的三天都在跟時間賽跑,這一帶的景點超多,但一天也只有一個日出一個日落一個晚上,根本無法把我的攝影肖想清單通通排進三天裡。再加上我跟我爸都很貪心,我爸又神奇地都不會累,竟然可以跑了一天行程之後拍銀河到半夜一點半才回民宿,睡不到兩個小時,四點又起床出門拍日出!在Moab這幾天恨不得一天有48個小時,在超美民宿耍廢的時間一點都不夠。

Delicate Arch is a 46 feet (14m) high natural arch in the Arches National Park. The only way to see this arch is by hiking. You could walk 100 yards (91 m) to see the arch from one mile away at the Lower Delicate Arch Viewpoint. But to see the Delicate Arch closely, you’ll have to hike a 3-mile (4.8 km) roundtrip uphill trail that climbs 480 feet.

Delicate Arch is most popular around sunset. Parking next to the trailhead at Wolfe Ranch can fill up during busy hours in the summer months. Overflow parking is available at the Delicate Arch Viewpoint parking lot but parking there adds two miles to your hike. Some people opt for hiking this trail at sunrise to avoid the crowds.

We made it to the Wolfe Ranch parking lot at about 7pm in early June when sunset was at 8:38pm. The parking lot was busy but there were some spots left.

精緻拱門是個十四公尺高的砂岩拱門,要到這個景點朝聖只能乖乖爬山,雖然有只要走九十公尺就到了的觀景點 (Lower Delicate Arch Viewpoint),觀景點離精緻拱門超遠,大概1.6公里,想近看就只能爬4.8公里(來回)的步道,這個步道有不少上坡路,爬升146公尺。

精緻拱門是個非常熱門的景點,步道口的停車場在Wolfe Ranch,夏天的傍晚時分常常會停滿,停滿的話車子就要停到Delicate Arch Viewpoin的停車場,走到步道口要1.6公里,有些人會因此選擇一大清早來走,避開人潮。我們六月初來訪,傍晚大概七點到步道口停車場 (夕陽是8:38pm),停車場車子蠻多,但是還剩幾個位子。

The first part of the trail was a easy walk on gravel paths. This trial is only three miles but heat and high elevation can affect your condition. This steadily uphill trail has no shade. It can be a slightly difficult hike in a scorching hot summer afternoon.

前三分之一的步道十分平緩,這個步道雖然不長,但是高海拔和炎熱天氣都可能會影響你的體力,這個緩緩上坡的步道一路上都沒有遮陰,天氣太熱來走的話有點難度。

The middle section was an uphill hike on slickrock. I never handled heat well and I never worked on muscles I need to carry a heavy backpack. It was killing me to hike this trail in the heat while carrying my camera gear, tripod and water bottle. Slightly thinner air drained my energy. I was struggling with the weight on my back.

中段走在不停上坡的砂岩上,我背了相機、腳架和水,平常沒在爬山也沒在負重練習,大熱天加上高海拔走起來好吃力,雖然步道不難,但是我走超慢,爬到懷疑人生。

The last bit of the trail was quite level. The very last part of the trail hugged a sandstone wall.

Remember to look for the Frame Arch or Twisted Donut Arch as you approach the Delicate Arch. I missed it. Even though I knew this spot existed, I was awed by the incredible scenery at this last stretch and so eager to get a spot for sunset that I forgot to look to the Frame Arch. The Frame Arch / Twisted Donut Arch gives you an opportunity to frame your shot of the Delicate Arch.

最後一段路頗平坦,快登頂之前的步道沿繞過一片超大的紅色砂岩,轉彎之後就是精緻拱門。這裡有個小拱門 (Frame Arch or Twisted Donut Arch),可以把精緻拱門框起來拍,記得注意一下,我明明知道這個點,但是走到這裡太陽都快下山了,急著去卡位,還有這一段路實在太美,完全忘記也來不及爬上這個點。

Looking across, the valley and rock formation looked like a scene out of Star Wars.

往山谷的另一邊看,覺得根本是星際大戰場景。

Right around the bend, when the highly anticipated Delicate Arch popped up in front of my eyes, I was shocked. It was so crowded up there. Most of the flat surface was occupied. We carefully walked down the rim and found a sliver of a ledge to sit on. Not far behind me was a cliff. Right in front of me was a steadily downward slope whose end I could not see.

Having a serious fear of heights, I was petrified.

There was limited space to set up a tripod. Looking at the steep drop-off, I braved the few steps to find a ledge and then never moved again the whole night. Walking around to look for composition was not an option for me.

一轉彎,精緻拱門出現那眼前的那個瞬間,我傻眼了,明明才六月初但是超多人!所有平坦的地方都被佔滿了,我們沿著這個大碗公往下走一點點,找到一個細細窄窄的小平台坐下,眼前是無止盡的下坡,看不到底,我有懼高症,在這裡根本完全石化。人多到沒什麼地方可以架腳架,眼前是個懸崖,鼓起勇氣走幾步路到一個小角落之後就再也不敢動了,哪能走來走去構圖。

The sunset was uneventful that day. We sat — well, for me, it was more of a uncomfortable squat — up on the edge of the bowl, watching the arch with La Sal mountains in a distance. We reached the top at about 8:15 pm. The milky way would not come up until 10:30 pm. It was a waiting game.

Most people left after sundown. Looking back, it would be smart to move around and find a spot to set up my shot. However, the visibility was getting low. I could not get the image of the steep drop out of my head. I was too scared to move.

At 4,606 ft (1,404 m) in an open space, it was freezing even in June. Although I asked everyone to bring warm clothes and my husband carried a blanket with us, most of us did not pack enough to stay warm.

這天的夕陽一點也不精彩,太陽下山之後,人潮漸漸散去,但這時候能見度越來越低,我就怕到不敢動了!真的要好好拍照的話,實在需要白天先場勘,人生地不熟,天黑之後根本不敢亂走。那時候應該換位置的,可是當時就怕到呈現石化的狀態。

銀河中心要到晚上十點半才會出來,接下來就只好慢慢等。太陽下山之後,氣溫降得很快,雖然叫大家帶保暖衣物,又背了一條毯子上山,幾乎每個人都帶不夠,精緻拱門海拔 1,404 公尺,又開闊,晚上的真的很冷!

As the blue hour came, heavy clouds moved in, covering the sky right around the area where the Milky Way would come up. At one point it was so much cloudier than the PhotoPills screenshot above. We were worried. We might have waited around for nothing. Looking at clouds moving in while our poor family members holding their pee and shivering in the cold, we had to make a decision to leave or wait.

藍色小時開始之後,越來越多雲,有些頗厚,還集中在銀河要出來的那一塊天空,比上面PhotoPills照片還嚴重多了,想說該不會要悲劇了,可能會等半天但到頭來一場空,看著雲越來越厚,旁邊衰著等的家人一邊憋尿一邊冷到發抖,認真看著這個雲的態勢考慮到底有沒有希望。

We were lucky. The clouds got out of the way at the end. We shot from roughly 10:35 to 11:25 pm. My dad probably could have stayed up there all night if everyone were not begging him to leave.

Another problem with shooting the Milky Way at a popular spot is that there were so many cooks in the light-painting kitchen. Most of them were horrible. We ran into several people who stayed right in front of the arch pretty much the whole time. They were experimenting with light painting, but most of their lights were straight up white light that was too strong.

Finally there were just my dad, two experienced night photographers, and me. My dad and I knew nothing about light painting aside from a few online articles we read. I brought my Lume Cube with orange warming gels. We used the Lume Cube at 1-2% with one or two warming gels stacked. My dad had to walk along the edge of the bowl and hold the light as high as he could for enough time that everyone got a few exposures. Surprisingly it worked well enough that most of us were happy with the lighting.

Shooting at the Delicate Arch was up on my Milky Way wish list. I was excited to edit my photos only to find out that most of them were out of focus with slight movements in between shots! The arch was a bit far from where we set up. I changed from the wide angle with which I shot a few Milky Way to my 50mm. I failed to get a good focus. I got several sets of the Milky Way and dark frames, but none of them stacked! There were slight movements among most of the shots. (Probably because it was quite windy and I was so scared that I shivered a lot. lol) My Delicate Arch Milky Way attempt had a tragic ending. The shot below was the only one that turned out. I guess I’ll just have to go back to Moab one day….

還好最後很幸運,雲散了,我們從大概 10:35 拍到 11:25,要不是所有人拜託我爸下山,我爸應該可以在上面拍一整個晚上。

攝影人多的另一個缺點都是好多人在打光,打得不好就帶你一起下地獄,我們這天遇到好多個衝到拱門正前方好久的攝影團,練習打光又打得很直很強很死,在後面拍就只能心裡翻白眼。好不容易等到那一團走了,只剩我們家兩台相機和兩位實戰經驗超強的路人,最後變成我爸手舉高高拿著我的 Lume Cube 打光,Lume Cube加了深橘色gel又只開大概2%亮度,沒想到我爸打的光還頗受好評。

這是我整趟國家公園之旅最期待的銀河景點之一,回家滿心期待地打開照片,結果發現我的照片幾乎全部都失焦而且都有晃到!坐在電腦前欲哭無淚。拱門其實有一點遠,所以從平常拍過幾次銀河的廣角鏡頭換成50mm,結果對焦都沒對好!拍了好幾組銀河加全黑影像打算回來疊圖,但是大概因為風大我又害怕跟冷到一直抖,沒有一組疊得起來!只有像上面這樣悲劇的單張。最後大概只有下面這一張照片可以看,只好有朝一日再回Moab捲土重來….

Walking back in the dark can be treacherous. It can be difficult to find the trail. You don’t want to do it alone.

I schedule the trip around the moon phase to shoot the Milky Way so of course it was pitch black on the return trip. We hiked back using a few headlamps and flashlights. Following the trail was not a problem in daylight. In the dark on the other hand, there were not as many guiding rock cairns as I would need. I was thankful that I got to travel with people who had a good sense of direction. I would have been so lost in the dark.

摸黑下山其實不容易,不建議一個人走。

畢竟行程是為了拍銀河而照著月亮排的,所以這天當然是完全沒有月亮,一片漆黑,只能靠著幾個頭燈和手電筒。白天走起來不難,半夜下山覺得隔好遠才出現的區區幾個指路石堆(cairns)根本不夠,還好找了一堆很會的人們一起來,不然我半夜在山裡只有迷路的份。

Delicate Arch 
NPS Delicate Arch Intro
Parking: Wolfe Ranch
3 miles / 4.8 km round trip
2-3 hours
What to bring: Headlamp, warm clothes, sunscreen, hat, plenty of water (we each had at least 1.5 liter), rain gear
裝備: 頭燈、保暖衣物、防曬、帽子、足夠的水(我們一人至少1.5公升)、雨具
Use caution. Sandstone can be slippery especially when it’s wet. Severe injuries and fatalities have happened here.
請務必小心,砂岩會滑,這裡發生過好幾次意外,有人摔傷或摔死過

A very helpful photography guide: Fire Fall Photography. “Delicate Arch Photo Guide and Tips…an Icon that lives up to the Hype” 詳盡攝影指引

This blog gives you an idea of hiking the Delicate Arch at sunrise: The Mandagies. “Delicate Arch Hike During Sunrise (Beat the Crowds!)” 想考慮日出去走可以參考這篇

Day 2 Itinerary

9:00 Drive from Rifle, CO to Moab, UT (2h30m) → 11:30 Lunch at El Charro Loco in Moab → 12:40 Upper Colorado River Scenic Byway U-128 → 15:45 Grocery shopping (City Market, 425 S Main St, Moab, UT 84532) → 16:45 Our incredible Airbnb → 18:30 Leaving for Delicate Arch at the Arches National Park, Delicate Arch → 19:10 Parking lot at the Wolfe Ranch → 20:15 Reaching the top of Delicate Arch → Shooting sunset and the milky way → 00:35 Back to the parking lot

* Sunset 8:38 pm; Visible GC 10:33 pm – 4:03 am

第二天行程

9:00 出發,開車從Rifle, Colorado到Moab (2h30m) → 11:30 午餐 El Charro Loco in Moab, Utah → 12:40 科羅拉多河景觀道路 Upper Colorado River Scenic Byway U-128 → 15:45 超市買菜 (City Market, 425 S Main St, Moab, UT 84532) → 16:45 超美西南沙漠風格民宿 → 18:30 從民宿出發前往拱門國家公園精緻拱門步道 (Arches National Park, Delicate Arch) → 19:10 步道口停車場 Wolfe Ranch → 20:15 登頂 → 拍夕陽和銀河 → 00:35 回到停車場

* 日落 20:38 pm; Visible GC 22:33 pm – 4:03 am

 

One thought on “American Southwest Day 2: Shooting the Milky Way at Delicate Arch 精緻拱門健行拍銀河

  1. Pingback: American Southwest Day 3: Milky Way at the Balanced Rock 平衡石銀河攝影 | Near and Far

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