Welcome back to another blog of The Light of Night! With any story, there’s an experience that changes everything. My story with astrophotography was kind of an accident, but something that’s changed my life forever. Here’s the story….
I’m a student at BYU-Idaho, based out of rural southeast Idaho. I’m studying visual communication, which consists of graphic design, vector illustration, marketing, and photography and I restarted my photography journey two years ago. At that time I was taking a required beginning photography course and this led into my journey as a long exposure and astrophotographer. During this class I was also roommates with another visual comm major and we did a lot of for fun photography projects. It’s with her that I kind of stumbled into astrophotography.
One night her sister, my roommate, and I were out on a night drive in the back roads of rural Idaho. While we were out on our drive I looked out the window and was so stunned at the brightness of the Milky Way. Even with the naked eye we could see the grandeur of the Milky Way. We had to stop in the middle of the road just to look up. It was AMAZING.
We got back in the car and my roommate turned to me and was like, “Let’s shoot the Milky Way tomorrow night.” And I was like, “Wait, seriously?” Turns to me “yeah.” “Ok let’s do it!”
We turned around and went back to our apartment and I remember staying up an additional 4-5 hours that watching videos, reading, and preparing for astrophotography the next night. It must’ve been 3am by that time, but I was sooo excited. Now I was just re-learning photography at that time, so my foundation in photography was non-existent, but I was determined to get at least a semi-decent shot that night.
The next night we went out around 1am to this mountainous area where we could include some cool landscape terrain in our shots. The weather was clear, it wasn’t too cold, and it felt like fate was giving us some sort of sign that this was gonna be so good. When we first got to our location I got some decent shots and I was actually thrilled because I was doing SOOO much better than I anticipated, but my roommate told me “Let’s go explore more, like up the road a little bit.” So we got in her car and drove to this open range area that cows were roaming in and set up on this road on a hill to start shooting more. By this time I was getting a little nervous because we had been hearing lots of howling sounds from who knows what kind of animals in this dark wooded area. But to no avail, we kept shooting. I remember one shot I got I set up my tripod in this ditch on the side of the road hoping to get a lower and better angle to shoot the Milky Way. My roommate was in her car getting some sort of gear and she accidentally hit the car’s high beams and I immediately got frustrated because it was going to mess with my photo that I had just started 5 seconds earlier. In hindsight, I’m soooooooo glad she did because this made for an EPIC first nightscape photo. I saw the preview of it afterwards in camera and I can’t even tell you how ecstatic I was. That mistake motivated me to keep shooting for the rest of the night and I got more amazing photos that have become some of my favorite memories and the start of my amazing journey to learn astrophotography.
You may think it’s dumb that I decided to go into astrophotography, even when there are dozens of genres of photography that could earn me so much more money, but there’s seriously nothing quite like getting some incredible astrophotographs. Since my first outing, I’ve been fortunate enough to learn from that teacher that I took that beginning photography class from, Caryn Esplin, about all things astrophotography. But most of my learning has come from my mistakes, happy accidents, and just experimentation in-camera and with post-processing.
This is what my website is all about. I want to help you, if you’re brand new, or looking for another website to get tips on astrophotography, shoot, prepare for, and post-process your sick astrophotos.