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Join The Darkside of Photography...

Updated: Mar 25

The Milky Way & Moulton Barn, GTNP, Wyoming
The Milky Way & Moulton Barn, GTNP, Wyoming

As a lot of you already know, "photography" means to draw with light. The word photography is a combination of two Greek words...the first being phōtós, which means light. The second Greek word is graphé, which means to draw. So a photographers main tool is indeed light. You can have the fanciest camera in the whole world, but if you don't have light you can't draw with light! Good quality light is the main ingredient to any impactful image.

This leads me to the main point of this post...astrophotography. Now night time doesn't seem like a logical time to draw with light. The sun is down. No light? Or is there light? There is indeed light at night, but it requires more of an effort to make an image and with the right skill set your efforts can pay off. The digital sensor in modern digital cameras are covered with millions of light gathering diodes. With a long enough exposure your digital camera can make amazing night time images. The camera gear set up for astro-photography is fairly straight forward. You'll need a sturdy tripod. The long exposures required to make images at night make this a must have. Next, you'll need a fast lens and by fast I mean a lens that lets in a lot of light. You can check how "fast" your lens is by reading the max aperture value printed on the lens. A max aperture number of F/2.8 or lower is best for astro-photography. Batteries, batteries, batteries! Astro-photography requires long exposures and these long exposures use up batteries in a hurry! So having 3-4 batteries is a great idea. You'll also want to have a cable release switch or a camera that allows for interval shooting as an in camera function. Come prepared for chilling temps and bring a flash light! A good flash light serves two helps you see where your going in the dark, but it also can be used to painted light on your foreground subjects. In the image accompanying this post of Moulton Barn in Grand Teton National Park I used a fairly strong flashlight to paint light on the barn during the exposure for the Milky Way.

If your interested in joining the dark side of photography and are wanting to learn how to start making images of the night sky I'll be teaching an introductory astro-photography class in April. The class will be offered at both the Kearney and Holdrege Central Community College campus locations. Click on the link below for more information and to register! Hope to see you join the dark side!


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