Sedona Arizona Photography Hot Spot Location & Milky Way Skies

We have a friend named Bimmy in Sedona, but we lost our contact information. Hopefully, she will see this someday and contact us. Update: Good News!! We found Bimmy on our Extra Eyes Photo Tour while in Sedona!

Sedona Arizona’s main attraction is its array of red sandstone formations. The formations appear to glow in brilliant orange and red when illuminated by the rising or setting sun. The red rocks form an attractive backdrop for many activities, ranging from spiritual pursuits to the hundreds of hiking and mountain biking trails.

Sedona Arizona offers many specific locations to do insanely dynamic photography! Our weather was not great, so we did not get what we wanted, but we did get a whole lot of drama in the sky. The Chapel of the Holy Cross, Cathedral Rock, and the Airport view are some great locations just to name a few.  Don’t forget about night photography in Sedona. They have some pretty dark skies outside of town. Visit our dark sky information page to find out how to get information on dark skies and milky way photography. You can see some earth-shattering milky way images below from Sedona our Arizona Photography. We all work our butts off here. We have bragging rights. 🙂 

We are returning to Sedona shortly to absorb some of its scrumptious scenery and bask in its atmosphere of energy vortexes.  Extra Eyes Photo Tours will take you there. Pair this location up with Oak Creek Canyon as they do. 

The next tour is in the fall but they will also be doing a Milky Way Photography Tour in the general Sedona Arizona area.  It will definitely include Lee’s Ferry. Check out the Lee’s Ferry Milky Way Photography page with the aliens are landing image that will blow your mind. They are creating the milky way tour and gathering information and it will be available soon.

Sedona Arizona is a Milky Way Photography Location

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Photography Information for Sedona Arizona

Lens: This area is a wide-angle lens location, but there is some wildlife, so if you have a zoom lens, keep it nearby. Make sure you have a lens  2.8 or lower for your milky way. If you don’t own a proper lens for milky way photography, you absolutely must rent one. You cannot go all the way here and stand under this amazing solar system and not come home with milky way images.

Gear:  Bring your tripod and your circular polarizing filters. The CPL will make your puffy white clouds burst and deepen the blue sky color around them.  It will also take the glare off the water and replace it with the reflection. Bring your tripod too.  If there is not enough light when you are shooting, you will want to use it to get some depth of field (higher F-stop). Don’t forget your ND filter in case if you’re going to shoot moving waters. Bring your shutter release for your milky way photography and bring a flashlight.

Gear List at a Glance: Circular polarizing filter, neutral density filters, tripod, shutter release, wide-angle and zoom lens, and a flashlight.

When to Go: Weekdays, when it is slightly offseason, is best. This is a tourist town, so be prepared for people. Keep in mind this is also a milky way dark sky area, so you might want to plan your trip around a new moon or the week before during milky way week.

Camera Settings

Aperture Priority

It is generally used to control the depth of field (control how much is in focus from your subject back). If your shutter speed drops to 1/30th sec. or lower because you lack light, you will need to put your camera on a tripod to avoid blurry pictures. Anything handheld below 1/30 sec will be blurry. The higher the “f” number, the less light that will come in, and your shutter speed will drop to let more light in.

When your “f” number goes up, your aperture closes. At f-22, you are barely letting any light in.  Always watch your shutter speed when taking your shot, look at the bottom of the screen through the viewfinder and check your shutter speed. Do not let your shutter speed go too low when hand-holding.  Sometimes you cannot get a super high f stop because you do not have enough light. This will happen quite often at times, such as a sunset. Again, put your camera on a tripod, and now your photos will not blur except for any subject moving in the image.

You might want the opposite effect. That is when your subject is in complete focus, and the background is blurred, called the bokeh effect. You will use your lowest F-number, such as 2.8 or 3.5. Go as small as your particular lens will allow.  Shooting in Aperture Priority allows you to control this.

Shutter Priority

If you have moving subjects such as people moving, you will want to shoot in shutter priority to be sure your images come out sharp. When people are moving slowly, shoot at 1/250th sec, and adjust your ISO accordingly. If they are moving very fast, increase your shutter speed to about 1/1000th sec. If it’s a bright sunny day, go as high as 1/1200 second for very fast-moving subjects.

Manual Mode

If you have moving waters here, you can do your long exposure running, milky water shots.  You will have to use a tripod for this effect.  All of your settings will vary depending on the lighting and what neutral density filter you have. You will shoot in manual mode for the milky waters.

ISO is always 100 or as low as your camera will allow. Aperture is f22. Your shutter speed will vary depending on the light. Take some test shots to decide on your shutter speed after you put your neutral density filter on. (It’s like sunglasses for your camera to stop light from coming in).

Use your shutter release or your 2-second timer also to prevent camera movement. Voila. You now have your milky water exposure. You will want at least a 5-second exposure for water. (If you don’t have a neutral density filter, you may not get more than 1/15th of a second in the sun. That does not give you a good effect). Go to our store to buy your ND filter. We like a 3.0 for super long exposure in the daytime, and we have a ten stop filter for bright sunny days.

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Photography Magazine Extra Pam Goodyer

Park and Area Information

Entrance Fees: 

A Red Rock Pass (or America The Beautiful Interagency Pass, Golden Age or Golden Access) is required when leaving your vehicle unattended while recreating on National Forest land around Sedona and Oak Creek Canyon. View the Red Rock Country Map to see locations of fee areas where the Red Rock Pass is required.

The pass must be displayed in the windshield of the vehicle. Vehicles parked on the National Forest in the red rock area that do not display a valid pass in the windshield are subject to receiving a citation. A pass is not required for incidental stopping to take a photograph or to enjoy a scenic vista (approximately 15 minutes or less).

Photography Magazine Extra Pam Goodyer

Hotel Information

Where NOT to stay – Diamond Resorts Bell Rock Inn.

If you want to spend the next two years trying to get them to stop telemarketing, you then stay here. If you want no wifi for your phone, this is the place. If you want a snooty, snotty person at the desk, you got it; this is your place. The one pool and jacuzzi were unavailable, and you had to go to a different location if you wanted to use it.

We DID NOT LIKE OUR EXPERIENCE HERE, and we will never go back.

Although there were a few very polite professional workers here, the one with the attitude is what you remember.

Whatever you do, if you do not take our advice, DO NOT get the room by the ice machine! But that doesn’t matter anyway if there is someone above your head you will hear every single footstep anyway to keep you awake all night long.

Hotels NOT to stay at
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Call us purchase ad ad below. We will put your business here for as little as $50 per year. You can’t beat that.

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Cave Springs Campground is located at the northern end of Sedona’s famous Oak Creek Canyon, 11 miles from the 89A turnoff in Sedona. Cave Springs is the largest campground along scenic Oak Creek.

  • Campsite: $20 per night (up to 8 people per site. If your party consists of more than 8 people, you will need an additional site.)
  • 2nd vehicle: $10 additional for a second vehicle space permitting.
  • Firewood: $7 per bag (available from the campground host)
  • Showers: $4 per use (coin-operated)
  • Holders of Golden Age or Golden Access, America the Beautiful Senior or America the Beautiful Access passes may receive a 50% discount for overnight camping.
  • Open: April 1 – November 11

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Announcing our PhotographyContest

All of the winners will have their photo featured in our Magazine  Lots of Prizes

 See all of the Details on our Photography Contest Page.

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