Glenn Randall Photography

Extraordinary landscape photography from Colorado and the West

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Perseid Meteor Shower over Turret Arch



Perseid meteor shower over Turret Arch, Arches National Park, Utah

Perseid Meteor Shower over Turret Arch, Arches National Park, Utah

The Perseid meteor shower is always one of nature’s best fireworks displays. At its peak, in a dark-sky location, you may be able to see as many as 50 or 60 meteors per hour. In 2018, a new moon occurred on August 11, at the beginning of the three-day period when the shower peaks, providing completely dark skies and great viewing conditions all three nights.


I had photographed the Perseids on two previous occasions, but I wanted to make an even better image than I had before, with more and brighter meteors. As with my previous efforts, I wanted my composition to include the radiant, the point in the sky where the meteors appear to originate. For the Perseids, the radiant lies in the northeast corner of the constellation Perseus the Hero. After much map study and review of study frames I’d made on previous trips, I decided to photograph the Perseids over Turret Arch in Arches National Park. To capture more meteors, I decided to shoot for three nights in a row, then combine all the meteors I photographed into one image. To capture brighter meteors, I mounted a 24mm f/1.4 lens on the first of the two cameras I used. The key to capturing bright meteors is a large maximum aperture, measured in terms of the area of aperture when the lens is wide open. Meteors only last a second or two, so the shutter speed is irrelevant so long as it is longer than the meteor duration.  A 24mm f/1.4 lens offers a good balance of large maximum aperture and wide angle of view. Longer focal-length lenses can provide apertures with a larger area, but they have a narrower angle of view, so many meteors will rocket past the edge of the frame. That means they can’t be included in the final composition. I attached a 16mm f/2.8 lens to a second camera to capture meteors that traveled farther from the radiant before becoming visible, as well as the full length of exceptionally long meteors. The aperture of a 16mm f/2.8 lens has only one-seventh the area of a 24mm f/1.4 when shooting wide open, but the 16mm lens has a much wider angle of view.


The weather in Arches National Park was consistently hot, hazy, and smoky, but the skies were mostly free of clouds. The temperature broke the 100 degree mark every afternoon, but the nights were very pleasant. I photographed until 3 a.m. the first night, then until astronomical dawn (5 a.m.) on the last two nights. On all three nights, I shot back-to-back exposures, 20 seconds, f/1.4, ISO 3200 for the 24mm lens, 30 seconds f/2.8, ISO 6400 for the 16mm lens. In total, I shot 3780 frames that I hoped would contain meteors. I shot additional images of the land and the background sky using a multi-row panorama kit and 35mm f/1.4 lens. At each camera position I made multiple exposures, then used Photoshop’s Stack Mode-Median utility and the equivalent procedure in RegiStar to reduce noise in the land and sky. After sifting through all 3780 frames, I identified 49 frames containing meteors that were bright enough to include in the final composition. The digital darkroom work consumed about three days, but I believe the result was worth the effort.

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Glenn Randall Photography  |  2945 Colby Dr.  |  Boulder CO 80305-6303 | Office 303 499-3009  |  Mobile 720 320-7126

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I offer over 100 images on this site, in four or five sizes each and as many as five different presentations (loose, matted-only, framed, gallery-wrap canvas, and gallery float). It is impossible to keep every size and presentation of every image in stock at all times. Accordingly, most of the items I offer for sale on are hand-built one at a time as customers order them. It normally requires between five and ten business days to complete an order, but it may take longer if I am on an extended shoot. Shipping time is in addition to these figures. To get specific information about delivery time for a particular item, please call 303 499-3009 or email me. I will do my best to accommodate rush orders. Thanks for your patience!

All photographic prints, regardless of presentation (loose, matted-only, framed, etc.) are delicate and require careful packaging to be shipped safely. Accordingly, all online purchases will have a 15 percent charge added for shipping and handling. This shipping charge only covers shipments to the continental United States. Please contact me for a quote on shipping to Alaska, Hawaii, or to international destinations. If you would like to pick up your print at my home office in Boulder rather than have it shipped, please call 303 499-3009 (office) or 720 320-7126 (mobile) to complete your purchase and make arrangements for pickup. Alternatively, I can deliver prints in the Denver metro area for $1.00 per mile based on round-trip mileage.

All matted-only and framed prints larger than 24x30 inches, all gallery-wrap canvases and gallery-float prints larger than 30x40, and all framed panoramas wider than 30 inches, are too big to be shipped via FedEx ground and too big to fit in any standard-size art box. While these prints can be shipped, they require a custom-made crate and the cost is exorbitant ($300+). I strongly suggest that all customers who live outside the Denver metro area and who wish to purchase a print larger than the maximums specified above buy the loose version and take it to the custom frame shop of their choosing. Loose prints can be shipped rolled at the standard shipping rate of 15 percent of the retail price. I will gladly provide detailed instructions to the framer on the moulding I use and my preferred method of mounting and framing the piece.

I use elegant hardwood frames on all of my framed prints. The image above right shows the frame I use for the smallest framed size of this image. I use proportionally larger frames with the same color finish for larger prints. The moulding shape will vary, depending on the size. For more information on the frames I recommend for different size prints, please visit my framing page.

Studio Moulding frame 353-125 cherry Studio Moulding Forte 4934 mahogany-finish picture frame Studio Moulding Forte 4834 mahogany-finish picture frame

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