Temple of the Sun

Temple of the Sun is one of the prominent features of the Cathedral Valley loop in Capital Reef National Park in Utah. I found it fitting on this early summer’s morning, around 4:30am, to show the Temple of the Sun beneath the Milky Way Galaxy.

If you’d like to see it sans watermark, you can view the image without the watermark here. And for those who like to know the technical details, this photograph was made using the Nikon D700 at an ISO of 2500 using a 20mm lens @f/2.8 for 25 seconds. Yes, there is still a bit of noise in the photograph, you’re basically seeing a raw image here.


13 thoughts on “Temple of the Sun

    • Thanks Gail. I’ve learned a good bit this summer about the position of the Milky Way at various times of night, it’s relation relative to the position of the moon and which direction you want your silhouetted subject to be placed in, as well as trying to keep the “noise” levels low. It’s hard not to have the sensor overheat on these desert nights.

    • Utah is a great place to start. The National Park Service has been studying the night sky and found that Natural Bridges National Monument has the darkest skies in the contiguous U.S.

      The above image was made in Capitol Reef National Park. There’s also Canyonlands National Park, which is partially affected by Moab, as well as Arches National Park. Overall, you won’t find any darker skies in the U.S. then in Utah.

      As far as settings I tend to try to keep the ISO at 3200 or lower so as not to get too much “noise” or graininess. Also realize that on a hot summer night your sensor will heat up and that will increase noise as well, so give your sensor a break.

      If you shoot at 20 seconds or less then the stars will appear stationary. Once you cross the 30 second mark you’ll definitely begin to see some movement. But I have successfully made night shots with the shutter open for just over a minute and had them come out all right.

      I set my camera on manual and then select the “Bulb” setting. Then I attach a shutter release cable so that I don’t jolt the camera and I experiment with different lengths of exposure until I get what I’m looking for.

      I like to keep the aperture open so as to let in as much light as possible. You do also have to factor in the moon phase and time of night.

      Right at dark, at least in the summer, the Milky Way will appear to be laying on it’s side. During the night it shifts and by early morning will appear to be standing straight up and down. I look to the South/Southwest when I want to find the object to silhouette in front of the Milky Way.

      There’s a start…

  1. Pingback: Evening and Morning, Temples of the Moon and Sun | nomadruss in words and photos

    • Thank you! The blue was due to the early morning hours. The vertical image was made around 4:30am and it was just getting light enough to catch some shades of blue. That is one of the most remote and beautiful places I’ve been in Utah.

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