A Journey to Photograph the Night Sky
2016 was the year that I squashed my fear of low-light photography. In fact, I've become so excited about this new field that I wanted to share that journey with you! It has been quite the undertaking to learn how to photograph at night, nevermind mastering light in order to capture the Milky Way and the stars through a camera. I've been so lucky to live in Hawaii, a place with lots of dark sky and backdrops to impress. I'm growing more excited by the day of the kinds of visions that can be created by rendering and procuring light in the right ways. Here is my gallery of astrophotography, star trails, and night portraiture alike. I can't wait to create and share even more!!
THE TRIAL BEGINS
My journey started on a clear night in Mokuleia on the north shore of O'ahu. Arriving late at night for a camping trip, I realized that I only had the rainfly portion of my tent and was destined to spend the night in a hammock. No sleep? The perfect opportunity to learn astrophotography. I then sat out for two hours fiddling with the ISO and shutter speeds until I nailed down the basics.
The next photo involved the longest amount of time I've ever taken on any photograph due to the time to set up, over an hour of shooting, and the twenty odd hours to learn how to stack images! It's with this photo I really gained a respect for the amount of preparation and dedication it takes to be an astrophotographer.
With tales of Mauna Kea being one of the darkest places to sit under the stars, a friend and I drove up the mountain to find a place to observe. Arriving late at night, we pulled off the road and walked into the trees when this particular one, warped and barren, caught my eye. We set up, sat on a blanket, and watched the Milky Way fly on by.
Driving down the mountain after the Milky Way had dipped out of view, we reached Saddle Road connecting Hilo to Kona and happened upon an unexpected setting. With a hint of luck, a lone car passed by in the 30 minutes we spent parked and the headlights shone just enough light to illuminate the trees on the mountain. My favorite shot to date.
ADDING A MODEL
Back on O’ahu, I spent an evening with friends on the cliffs of Spitting Caves and decided to see what shooting against a moderately bright moon would turn out like. The resulting glow of the ocean made for a nice leading line and silhouetting for the subject I think.
The final picture I’d like to share was taken following the final sunset of the year at China Walls, my favorite place to chill out on O’ahu. My sister and I relaxed with a bottle of champagne watching fireworks pop up from Diamond Head to Moanalua Bay and I couldn’t help but try and capture the allure of the moment.
I’m grateful to have pushed past this fear and have been creating some photos I am proud of. These days I’m learning light painting, timelapses, and how to control foreground lighting. All to come later!!