Wondering in DarknesssteemCreated with Sketch.

in photography •  2 months ago

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I have been interested in astronomy for as long as I can remember. I grew up reading Science Fiction and my interest in SF led to an interest in science. My favorite writer was Isaac Asimov, and I devoured his science and history books as readily as his fiction.

I was never a serious astronomer. I have owned various telescopes over the years, but never a real instrument. I would occasionally make my way to a star party and look through other peoples telescopes, but I’ve never had a telescope good enough for astrophotography.

When I was younger, the bar for serious amateur astrophotography was fairly high, at least relative to my income. You needed a decent telescope, with a drive to track the movement of the stars, and you needed decent camera equipment. There was always something else that seemed more important to spend my money on. But I still tried to get out to the dark whenever I could to see real stars.

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If you are not interested in stargazing, you might not realize that most people do not live where they can see any but the brightest stars. The problem is called light pollution, and it is a real obstacle in many areas. Artificial light reflecting from the clouds and dust in the air, drowns out most of the stars. Many people go years without ever seeing the milky way. Some people have never seen it, and have no idea what they are missing. There is even an organization dedicated to preserving the dark places. The International Dark Sky Association.

Over the years, I found other hobbies that took my time and money. Living in Fort Worth I seldom found the opportunity to get out to the dark places. One weekend in June 2015, when Ren was out of town, I found myself missing the stars. A quick search online showed that there was a park about three hours away with particularly dark skies. Copper Breaks State Park. I was fortunate that many of the darkest places to see the stars are in Texas. If I had lived east of the Mississippi, it would have been much harder to find real darkness.

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I grabbed my binoculars and my tent and hit the road. Copper Breaks is an International Dark Sky Park. That means it is rated as being an excellent place to see the skies as they should be seen. There are darker places, but this was the darkest I had ever seen, and the Moon would set about an hour after sunset. This is important because the moonlight will drown out the stars as well.

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I spent an amazing evening under the stars, it was glorious. I was in heaven and I realized that I never wanted to go that long again without this. Even more amazing was that I just happened to arrive at the peak of the firefly mating season, and Copper Breaks had more fireflies than I had ever imagined seeing. It was truly magical. The entire valley was filled with them.

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I tried in vain to get a picture of the stars and the valley with the camera on my cell phone, but that camera was not capable of what I was asking from it.

When Ren came home I told her that I wanted a real camera. Ren and I try to support one another when we feel strongly about something. She called up a friend of ours who was a photographer and asked if he could help get me started, and he asked me over and loaned me his backup camera, a Nikon D70S, a few lenses, and a tripod. Things had changed a lot since I was younger. The technical bar to getting good star photos was much lower. Camera technology had improved considerably. Even that older camera was capable of getting decent results.

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Dinosaurs are also cool

I started watching every YouTube video I could find about photography. I set out to learn the camera, and was quickly obsessed. The next new moon, I found a place that wasn’t quite as dark, but was much closer, and headed out for my first astronomy shoot at Tucker Lake just outside of Strawn Texas. About 90 miles from the house. Those first shots were not amazing, I was still learning, but I was getting out beneath the stars, and I was learning something new.

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One of my First Star Photos

Photography is now a huge part of my life. Astrophotography is only a small part of that, not because I love it any less, but the necessary conditions do not come together very often. It needs to be near the new moon, I need to have the time and money to get somewhere dark, and need not to have to get up and go to work the next morning, so it needs to be a weekend, and then I have to hope that the sky is not cloudy. It’s a lot of work. I don’t think I’d enjoy it as much if it were easy.

I have since improved my gear, though I still shoot with a relatively modest camera, the Sony A6000. If we ever stop traveling long enough to save up some money, (snort!), I’ll invest in a better lens, but I get pictures I am proud of with my current equipment, and getting to amazing places seems a better use of my resources than collecting camera gear. One of these days I’ll get a telescope, but for now, I’m content.

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Safe Travels
Scott

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Your shooting was fantastic, especially your first 2 photos. It is amazing that you can combine your astronomy and photography hobby together. You must have a lot of patience, astronomy hobby need a lot of patience and just to wait for that right moment. Every pictures you posted, I can see the patience and enthusiastic.Especially your first star Photos. Since we do not have telescopes and enjoy the stars. We now can enjoy the moon and stars through your pictures.

Thank you very much for your sharing @xcountytravelers

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You are very welcome. Thank you for your kind words.

You are quite correct it does require a lot of patience and dedication sometimes. You have to keep aware of the phases of the Moon. New Moon is the best time to shoot, but you can shoot other times, you have to wait till the moon sets, or finish before it rises.

You have to be willing to drive several hours to someplace dark even if the weather is iffy, and hope to get a break in the clouds long enough to get a few shots.

When it all comes together though, it is worth it.

Great shot truly beautiful

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Thank you.

This was a fun post to put together. I hadn't looked at some of those photos in awhile.

Wow - are those shooting stars in the pictures?!?!?!?! and Ren - you're hilarious! hahahahaha your faces and silliness is such a joy to behold :)

I love how you get us giggling right away!

Scott - I used to live about 3 miles from Palomar observatory - and those were some dark skies!!!! beautiful - now I live on top of a mountain sooooooo far from civilization hehehehe and the sky is quite star-lit! :)

Its neat that they have places that are only meant to preserve the dark skies!!! It's a great cause, because there is nothing like a dark sky full a millions of stars!!!!!

and i love that you two have an agreement to support one another with the things that you really want to try!!!! that's so awesome!

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I have been trying to make people laugh since I was really young. My mother tells me that I walk up to strangers and make faces at them and giggle while I ran away once I saw a smile on their faces. It's a wonder my face never froze.
Ren

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I love stars and moons @xcountytravelers. Your photos are beautiful. I love the partial moon in between the skyscrappers. It is too expensive to buy a telescope and the best I can do now is hope for the stars to appear for me to gaze when I get to gaze. I only have my faithful iPhone with me and it is not easy to take nice shots of the stars nor the moon. I am really glad to be able to see it here in your post. The stars around your area is in abundance! Your first stars photo is amazing! Thank you for sharing it with us @xcountrytravelers! I wish you a good week ahead :)

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Thanks

That photo was shot during the lunar eclipse back in January. I was trying to get a shot of the moon between the buildings right at sunrise. Everything was nearly perfect except that it clouded up right as the sun came up and the moon reached the buildings.

It goes that way a lot. I'm still happy with the shot I got.

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It is really a beautiful shot, the same goes to all your stars photos. I tried capturing photos of stars with my phone but nothing really shows. And the shot of a moon usually looks blur. It is a good idea to invest in a good camera. I think I should do what you have done, watch Youtubes to learn about photography. Thank you again @xcountytravelers.

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Phone cameras are getting better and better, and you can take some amazing photos with them,but for some things you still need a proper camera. Fortunately there a many entry level cameras that are very suitable and very affordable.


This post was shared in the Curation Collective Discord community for curators, and upvoted and resteemed by the @c-squared community account after manual review.

Wo, this is a great level of work! With this I can say that I don't need a telescope. Your photographs wrap my eyes, it's the first time I've seen stars like that, it's indescribable, I could only appreciate. I understand your intention because the cosmos is inspiring, I always include it when writing, or at least almost always.

I love to see the stars in every shot, it's cool. I congratulate you for your work, really, I hope to continue seeing your things, every time I am more surprised by the works that are published here lately.

Greetings, and good vibes.

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Thank you very much. We really appreciate you taking the time to let us know that you enjoy what we dod. It means a lot.

Scott

Simply Amazing !!! The Stary night and Stary world.
As said many people never ever explore such natural thing. Many do not even think that such amazing things exist in this beautiful sphere . The ever growing pollution have taken away all the brightness from the Stary worl and charm of night.
Twinkling stars, Dazzling stars and shooting stars all sorts of star all above our head but we never ever think of the beauty. @xcountvtravelers thanks for taking me into Star world (not the tv channel) but the real world that really exists above us. You made the star world so glaring with amazing photography. The tent and star, the dinosaurs and star, the for and star......you have such amazing talent to make such thing beautiful under the open sky and burst of shooting star....great work...

Thanks for sharing so amazing stuff 🌟👌

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Thank you very much.

Everyone should make the effort to get to the dark pl as ces occasionally. I'm fortunate to live where th as t only takes a few hours drive. In Europe or east of the Mississippi River, it takes more effort.

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Yeas ....sky over the river is always clean and clear. Also the atmosphere is cool with river breeze....i do able to see many stars when i visit my native place a village in remote jungle area in India. Alwsys feel blessed to sleep under open sky full of starz during summer.
Most probably visiting that place again in next month...will try to capture and share some...

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Yes, he does have a wonderful talent. When we first got together 15 years ago he showed me the stars. It was so eye-opening, literally. He has such a passion that I encourage him as much as possible. Yes, I balk at times because I know what goes into the effort, but am always pleased when we go star hunting. Thank you so much for encouraging him like this.
Ren

I think the soul of this post was rekindling that curiosity with another complimenting passion. The love for watching heavenly bodies and examining them through the lenses both have different angles that go well. I can appreciate the enthusiasm and drive for wanting a better gear to do something you really want. Heck, I starved myself to buy me a graphics tablet when I just wanted to do digital art.

I'm sure the money to get your new equipment was the easy part. Learning how to use it and maximizing your full potential for astrophotography was main challenge. These shots are getting better and no doubt you'd be able to rival professional astrophotographers soon.

Beautiful work! I just particularly love the dinosaur one. I mentioned this post, and the dinosaur, in my first minnowuprising/upvoteplankton curation post.

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Thank you very much! I absolutely love that photo as well. Dinosaur Valley State Park outside of Glen Rose, Texas, is one of my favorite parks. I am pretty sure it is because of the dinosaur tracks, but I'll never really be sure because we spent so much time there. Thank you again.
Ren & Scott

I do not know if I could live in such a place away from society but I could take a vacation just to perceive such a sublime landscape. The photographs of the stars and the moon have always called my attention, simply because not everyone can make them and make them much less so. SPECTACULAR .. Thanks for showing us is something out of the ordinary, a hug @xcountytravelers !!

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Thank you very much.

I am torn sometimes. I love to opportunities that come wit being in the city, but I also love being closer to nature and the stars that comes from living in the middle of nowhere.

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