I often think that the night is more alive and more richly colored than the day.
Vincent Van Gogh
In a new study one third of the world’s population cannot see the milky way galaxy while light pollution affects eighty percent, and for four out of five Americans light masks the milky way.
Why does this matter?
In ecosystems everything is connected and the effects of artificial light can be devastating to migratory birds, hatching sea turtles, nocturnal animals, and plants to name just a few. The International Dark-Sky Association has a wealth of information on the effects of light pollution and on ways that we can help to reduce it.
I’m one of the lucky ones. I can step outside on a clear night and see the milky way with my naked eye as it arches across the sky.
This image was taken from my backyard.
It is not just a feast for the eyes but for the ears! It’s a nocturnal symphony in my little corner of the world when on any given night I can hear owls hooting, bullfrogs croaking, the haunting call of an occasional loon, and the coyotes howling.
It goes far beyond the sheer beauty of the night skies and speaks to the health of our planet.
As digital cameras advance its my hope that images like the one above will inspire people to think about light pollution and ways that they can reduce it.
I had paid more attention in school instead of daydreaming.
For my part I know nothing with any certainty but the sight of the stars makes me dream.
Vincent Van Gogh
I photograph every day and I think that practice not only keeps my creativity at a good level but it creates opportunities for further exploration of things that I might not have otherwise searched out.
Unless you are a studio based photographer you have to just deal with whatever is thrown your way for light and weather and find a way to make it work. If it is harsh bright sunlight, I might decide to do a long exposure over water with a neutral density filter or I might do a little infrared. Cloudy darker days are good for double exposures. Sometimes you can keep notes and revisit sites when conditions are perfect for the type of shot that you imagine, but that’s not always possible. It’s nice to have options and know how to dial in your settings to shoot under those conditions.
I have dabbled on and off with night photography usually when the day has gotten away from me and the last vestiges of good light have faded. I am finding it to be a whole other world filled with wonderful visual opportunities dependent on moon phases, cloud cover, and light pollution. Knowing how to capture the night sky though has led me into another crash course that I am just now starting to understand. The digital cameras of today, when manually programmed, capture this quite readily and if you’re shooting RAW instead of JPEG you really have quite a bit of freedom when it comes to editing. Like anything else though the key is practice, practice, practice. There is a wealth of information online that provides more specific information on gear, settings, and editing.
I think if I had been inspired more in school I might have paid more attention to learning about math which would have come in awfully handy now! It’s never too late though and I have immersed myself in things like azimuth and elevation calculations…and there are things called intervalometers that are built into cameras or they can be attached to them so that you can capture star trails. Who knew?! There’s one in the Nikon D7000 and I will be using it more!
Today’s shot was one taken in the early morning hours, just seeing what results I could get from different settings. As the moon began to clear the trees I noticed first that aura of light appearing. This was not the shot I was going for but I did in the end like the effect that it created and using that opportunity gave me more information to file away for future shots.
Take an opportunity to shoot under conditions that are unfamiliar to you. You might just get inspired!