Teaching and sharing my knowledge is something I genuinely enjoy. I’ve wanted to teach a “getting started” astro photography class for a while but have never been able to overcome the obstacles of weather and location until now. After moving to Texas, I decided to teach my first Astro Photography Boot Camp in West Texas with its consistently clear and dark skies. Because of the complications involved with astro photography, I decided to teach only 2 people.
Night photography, and in particular astro photography, is a mystery to many people. The night seems totally different than day, but in reality it isn’t. During the workshop we used the same basic methodology used to setup any shot: find your scene, determine the background exposure then add light to the foreground as desired. With people (as above) that is fairly simple. With landscapes, it is harder.
We photographed the galactic core rising above a limestone cliff along a wash. Because it was new moon (no moon), there was essentially no ambient light. The milky way was the brightest things in the scene. That is good for the milky way, but bad for the foreground of the image. To prevent the foreground from being just a black shape, we added a little light to the cliff using an Einstein and long throw placed very far back.
During the workshop we focused on individual shots of the sky. Thanks to the large size of the ranch, we had a good variety of subjects to shoot.
Stars become visible shortly after the sun sets. With some light from the fading blue glow, the river was lit up and stars showed in the sky. Of course, there is a downside. The desert is generally mosquito free… except by the river. We got the shot and moved on to less buggy locations!
While the students didn’t want to leave their camera unattended, I setup star trails both nights for demonstration. As always, nothing goes right 100% of the time. On the second night I decided to set up a star trail early and then leave it while I helped Emily and Stacy the rest of the night. Unfortunately, my equipment had other ideas. My normal trigger had a battery issue and the backup internal intervolometer stopped taking pictures shortly after we left for some unknown reason. I almost didn’t process the star trail, but when I did I discovered that I had captured a very large and bright fireball almost directly across the pole star. Sometimes failures turn into successes.
The trip was laid back. The days were spent either lounging in the air conditioned ranch house processing images and napping, or out exploring the ranch scouting for spots to shoot at night. The night skies were spectacular, but the ranch was also pretty during the day. Thanks to the incredibly wet year we’ve had everything was extremely green for mud July. Here are a few other images from the days and nights in Langtry.
He is a self taught experiential learner who is addicted to the possibilities that new (to him) gear open up. He loves to share the things he has worked out. Andrew started with a passion for landscape and night photography and quickly branched out to work in just about every form of photography. He is an ex-software developer with extensive experience in the IT realm.