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Corinne Ferris Group

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Anwar Bolshakov
Anwar Bolshakov

Photographing The Universe

For centuries, humans have been drawing what they see in the night sky through telescopes. But there is something about a photograph that can make you feel you are right there, up close to the moon, planet, star or galaxy you are looking at. Having the light from those distance objects, fixed in an image, has meant scientists can analyse and understand the beautiful universe around us. So, this month, the Sky at Night is looking at the wonderful world of astrophotography.

Photographing the Universe


Maggie is in Scotland looking at the latest in new technology being built for the Very Large Telescope. Once installed, it will give scientists the ability to understand and study the formation of galaxies throughout the entire history of the universe.

Simple text and "out-of-this-world" photography introduce readers to NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, and its mission to photograph the wonders of the universe, far above the atmosphere of Earth. Important details covered include the space observatory's planning and engineering, its launch, its scientific discoveries, and how its images have changed our perception of the cosmos. Aligned to Common Core Standards and correlated to state standards. A&D Xtreme is an imprint of Abdo Publishing, a division of ABDO.

In the Tengger Desert, located in Minqin County, Wuwei City, China, there is a mysterious group of artificial sculptures. The metal columns that point to the sky in this picture are called raindrops. By day, it falls like a raindrop in the desert, but the photographer prefers it at night under the Milky Way. After the Moon sets, the metal sculpture reflects the light of the Milky Way, making the sculpture's outline very clear. Extremely bright starlight in the desert is reflected off the metal surface like a column of light from a vast universe of stars hitting the ground.

With certain subjects, the angle of light is critical. Snowflake imagery is a great example of this. Like glare off a window, the angle of incidence equals the angle of reflection into the camera lens. When photographing on such an angle to capture untold beauty from the surface of a skyborne gem, we also encounter one of the biggest frustrations macro photographers push against: a depth of field so shallow that it cannot be overcome with a single frame.

In an era when NASA's vast photographic archive is a click away and even the Curiosity Rover is on Instagram, it's easy to lose sight of the fact that photographing the cosmos is an amazing achievement and a complex process.

The draw of photographing bright comets, besides the rarity of them, is driven by the fact that long exposure photographs lasting several seconds or minutes reveal details that are not readily seen visually, even if we observe the comet with a telescope. Also, comets are dynamic, changing celestial objects. They can change dramatically in brightness and appearance from one night to the next.

The passion to bring the hidden into the light is inherent in both the users of Jenoptik's microscope cameras and that fantastic being called GRYPHAX. With the joint mission to explore unknown galaxies of the micro universe, the GRYPHAX accompanies the curious people, the researchers, the teachers and the innovators on their daily journey of discovery.

The magic is in the details. This does not only apply to the smallest building blocks of knowledge which scientists constantly use to complete the overall picture. This also goes for the workflow that leads to the goal. GRYPHAX's large wings carry you effortlessly through your micro universe.

Photographing the endless wonders of the night sky is a highly rewarding experience that gives you a deeper connection to the universe. Though many modern smartphones have night-sky photography modes, a full-blown DSLR camera offers better clarity and the ability to bring out much greater detail than the human eye can see. Here are a few tips to help you get started.

The Moon is a great starting point for night sky photography because of its brightness. This brightness varies as the Moon goes through its phases. The fuller the Moon is, the less exposure time is needed. And as parts of the Moon pass into shadow, you get more definition on the craters on its surface. All of these differences make for an interesting variety of photographing experiences.

Before photographing the Moon, decide on when and where you want to shoot it. For extra-sharp detail, wait until the Moon is at its highest point in the sky. For location, avoid ambient light from street lights and traffic. This may mean going off on a remote road or into a public park after hours, or at the very least turning off as many lights as you can.

The Mindful Photographer by Sophie Howarth. I only know of Sophie Howarth from her time as a curator at the Tate Modern in London, but my impression then was positive. Her brand new book (it only came out a few days ago) is about slowing down as a means of enjoying photographing more. It's said to contain a curated collection of photographs along with anecdotes and explanation.

Like anyone else, I too am thrilled and amazed by the new Webb telescope photos of our distant universe. Then again, there's something that kinda rubs me the wrong way about some of 'em- and for reasons well beyond tangential. For whatever reason, they just remind me of all those many, many photos out there of super sharp, super colorful, super detailed, beyond realism postcard landscapes (slot canyons, anyone?) that are so universally popular and ubiquitous these days. Fair comparison, absolutely not- not even a valid analogy, just the association that somehow prevents me from fully enjoying the new Webbs...

Beyond the Sun & the Moon , some of the brightest objects in the skies are a few of our fellow planets. It is quite reasonable & fun to set out on an adventure photographing them from your own back yard. The photograph below demonstrates how this can be done with a standard camera setup.

Beyond that, the winnowing process continues as pictures get selected in sets from my portfolio or library for specific projects, whether a print exhibition, a book project, a magazine article, a blog post, submission to an advertising client. Curators, picture editors, art directors, and designers working on these projects make final decisions about which pictures to include. At this stage, the photographer typically hopes this further visual distillation of the universe will result in his or her pictures being included in the final product, rather than being subtracted out entirely, as though David had been reduced to a pile of rock dust.

Considering the subtractive aspects of photography can help you to make stronger pictures in the first place, while ensuring that your process funnels your work into a strong and continuously improving portfolio that represents a fairly concise statement of your personal vision of your world in your lifetime. After all, photography can be life-long practice, a never-ending learning experience that enriches the way we perceive the world, enables us to engage with space-time in an intimate way, and adds incalculably to our purpose and meaning in life, even if we do have to subtract the universe in the process.

Other objects that elicited great curiosity were the nebulae, or clouds. In 1781 the French observer Charles Messier (1730-1817) recorded the positions of 103 of these fuzzy patches in the sky so that he wouldn't confuse them with the comets he was seeking. The eighteenth-century philosopher Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) and a few other advanced thinkers considered the idea that these nebulae might be "island universes" outside the Milky Way. This first hypothesis of the existence of other galaxies was later rejected by prominent astronomers like William Herschel (1738-1822). Herschel's three great catalogues of nebulae included some that seemed to be halos of what he called "shining fluid" surrounding stars, and he assumed that this was the material of which all the nebulae were made.

The renewal ceremony was held at the stunning Mary Queen of the universe Church, which is a 56,000 sq ft roman catholic church in Orlando. It is grand, and regal and they way that god is celebrated there is beautiful.

Thank you Johnny for sharing your thoughts with these beautiful words and images. So interesting to explore the idea of changing perspective (point of view), both at the level of images perceived with the eye and caught in a photo and at the level of thinking about our planet, our star, and the universe. 041b061a72


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