Top 12 Images of 2016

 

Top Images of 2016 and How I Got There.

My first real try to capture the night sky. Brian Gailey - June 2012.

2016 was a year of growth and depth for my photography. 

Last year, I honed a new direction for my photography. I have always loved to get out into nature and photograph epic landscapes, waterfalls, cities, beaches, lightning, wildlife and others. However, in 2016, I rekindled love for night photography. 

In June 2012, I pointed my camera up to the night stars for the first time with the intentions of photographing the Milky Way.  That night, I fell in love with the idea of staying up all hours of the night to capture the largest thing in our Solar System that most people don’t see. Although the images sucked, most were out of focus, as I had no clue what I was doing. I still had fun.  

A month later, I traveled up to Crater Lake in hopes to practice more dark sky - Milky Way photography.  To my amazement, I captured a pink aurora over the caldera rim of Crater Lake. Staring at the back of my camera at disbelief, I could not believe what I had captured. Because when looking at the skyline I could not see anything with my eyes. This moment, I knew there was no turning back on night photography. 

My first aurora. Crater Lake, Oregon - July 2012.

From then on, I studied, and practiced each opportunity I could get. I began to follow websites that report on aurora activity. I began closely watching for solar activities and anomalies. I read books and blogs and websites dedicated to night photography. One of those I studied was educator and Bend, Oregon resident, Brad Goldpaint.  If you do not know of Brad’s work. I highly suggest checking him out at GoldpaintPhotography.com

Fast forward a year later, I felt more knowledgeable than ever before. The night of June 1, 2013, I received an alert for an active aurora and the skies locally were clear. Once again, I went to Discovery Point at Crater Lake National Park the site of my first aurora image.  Once arriving, I set my gear and it was on.  Mother Nature was putting on an exquisite display right over my head. In the shadows of the night, I heard a second camera clicking away. I went and introduced myself and found out I was shooting right next to the one and only Brad Goldpaint. I could not believe it. While chatting, I learned he was aware of my work and more importantly he was aware of my aurora shot the year before.  Brad even went to say, after doing some research, he thought my aurora image was the second ever recorded aurora over Crater Lake National Park. Second to an image he had previously captured. 

It was about that moment we both seen a light streak across the southwestern sky towards the northeast of the caldera. It moved faster than an airliner and did not blink.  It moved much faster than satellites we could see on regular intervals. It was the International Space Station.  It was at this moment, that I captured a rare occurrence of the Northern Lights over Wizard Island with the ISS passing through.  I was blown away. 

Northern Lights over Crater Lake with the International Space Station. Brian Gailey - June 2013.

That night Brad had stepped up his game and was shooting a timelapse of the sky that night. It was that night he shot one of his most famous short films, Without Warning

For the next 3 years, I watched other photographers, became more educated, and learned how the moon effects night photography. I upgraded my equipment, skills and knowledge. I began to shoot timelapse, not for movie making (which was a great bonus) but so that I did not miss something cool over a night on location. I began planning nightly photo excursions weeks in advance. Knowing where I needed to be and what time I needed to be there.  Before it was more of luck, then morphed into educated guessing, and then evolved into a greater understanding of coordination. There are lots of pieces that must come together to make a great night photo.  Sometimes a bit of luck is necessary and stumbling along will get you some good images.  But to make great images, takes that extra step of planning. 

By the beginning of 2016, I was getting some good work but I wanted to push myself a bit further and become more creative. So I began compositing images from the timelapse exposures. Creating the art you see today in my style.  The streaks of light from the stars, layered with the bright Milky Way on at an unforgettable location. 

Today I do not create by accident.  Each shoot is methodically and meticulously pre-planned ahead of any travel.  2017 has several dates already picked, planned and ready to execute. I will even be offering my first night time workshop June 29 – July 2, 2017.  This 3-day, 2-night workshop will teach you what you need to know to create your own night sky masterpieces. We will have on location night photography sessions, and classroom activities.  I will teach you the skills needed to shoot, edit and enjoy your time under the stars. Click here to learn more about this workshop. 

2016 was the year I grew into the photographer I want to be.  2017 is the year I help you grow into the photographer you want to be.