My Adventures In Photography

A while back I started a photography column for my hometown's local newspaper — you'll find all of my columns from those pages here as well as new ones that I write.

To see all of my blog posts to date, click here.

Take a look beyond our world

 GET OUT THERE: Sometimes it's good to just get outside without a plan and see what you find to take photos of. This particularly cold and clear night I found stars and a bright nebula. To the left is a map that uses Google Maps to show where the brightest areas of light pollution are in the United States (and the world); see the link below for the full map.

GET OUT THERE: Sometimes it's good to just get outside without a plan and see what you find to take photos of. This particularly cold and clear night I found stars and a bright nebula. To the left is a map that uses Google Maps to show where the brightest areas of light pollution are in the United States (and the world); see the link below for the full map.

I took this photograph explicitly for this post, but when I went out to shoot I didn’t know what I was looking for or what I was going to write about.

It’s good to do that every now and then. I feel like having a post or two set aside for impromptu experiences is good for the soul.

The photo above was taken during one bitterly cold night. I ventured out because it was the first clear night sky in a long time and I felt the need to take advantage of that.

The moon was nearly full, so that affected how many stars I could capture, but it made for some stunning foreground lighting. As you can see, the plants and road are clearly lit by not only the moon’s glow, but my car’s tail lights as well.

Despite the spill of light in my photograph, there was no way I was going to shut my car off. It was eight degrees outside and I didn’t want to walk too far (especially with a chest cold).

I took this photograph with my Canon 5D Mark iii and a 16-35mm f2.8 lens. It is a composite photograph, which means I took more than one photograph at different settings and in Photoshop CS6 I blended them together to create an even exposure.

I basically took the sky from one photograph and the landscape from another so the image can look more like how my eyes saw the scene.

This shot was taken out by Haymarsh lakes in Mecosta County. I took it out there because there’s far less light pollution from neighboring cities like Big Rapids or Evart. It’s in the middle of nowhere, which is perfect for astrophotography.

If you want to see where the darkest parts of the sky are across the state (or world), check out this link — a preview of how that website appears can be seen in the second photo attached to this post.

Before I took this photograph, I was shooting with my Canon 70-200mm f2.8 lens and I had zoomed in on the Orion Nebula, otherwise known as Messier 42.

At 200mm, some of the details of the nebula can be seen when you zoom into the photograph at a 100 percent crop in Photoshop (or Adobe Camera Raw, because I shoot in raw like the cool kids).

The Orion Nebula is one of the brightest nebulae in the night sky, and because of that it is visible to the naked eye and easily distinguishable to a telephoto lens — even if it’s only 200mm.
If I ever get around to renting a 600mm I’ll share my results. That’s provided we Michiganders actually get another clear night sky this winter anytime soon.

So, is there a point to this post other than the short stream of consciousness that you just read?

Well, I think the main point here is to forget all the technical stuff for one night.

Just let it go.

Just get out and shoot.

I always encourage that above all, because once you get rid of all the methodology and just strive to make a photo that looks good, that’s when the passion for the art takes over and you can just enjoy doing what you do.

There’s no pressure. There’s no frustration.

There’s just fun.

That’s what the photograph for this post is all about. I didn’t know what I was going to shoot that night, but once I discovered it I was able to just enjoy what I’d found.