Stars Above, Stars Below

Details: Cypress and Stars (above), Teasel and Stars (below)

Photography Highlights from 2016

2016 Photo Review Gallery Here
My 2016 photography year began during morning walks, when I explored dewdrops, sparkling in the first sunlight on newly-leafing plants & gossamer webs near my home. As the year ended, I stood, under the dark skies above Point Reyes, looking up in quiet wonder. I trained my camera at the billions of stars glowing in galactic space. When I recently reviewed this last year’s work, I was struck by the thread that connects these vast distances and magnitudes of scale. The thread, of course, is the light, itself. How irresistably seductive this light is to me, whether it glows in micro-bursts from the small world below my fingertips or sparkles, fiery from the multitudes of stars in the vast, unfathomable reaches of space. This light is what I have been photographing all these years.

I began the year, in January, with a new little camera, a Sony RX 100m3. I put this versatile and capable tool in my pocket, so I would have it with me as I walked near my home. New worlds drew me in because I walked with a camera. I began looking more closely on my morning walks. Soon, frost crystals on teasels, shining bubbles on new-sprung puddles and sparkling dewdrops on webs came into view. A forest of teasels only a hundred yards from my home became a favorite stopping point. I marveled at their intricate structure, even more so when they were covered with frost or dew-festooned webs.

I’ve always enjoyed the surprises I found by taking a closer look at the “small world.” The little camera whetted my appetite for close-up work, and I invested in a fine Zeiss 90mmf/2.8 macro lens for my Sony A7R.  I used it some on the cactus flowers during a visit to Joshua Tree in April. When I returned home, the spring warmth had opened a riot of roses in our front yard, so I trained the new lens on the dew-speckled roses near my front steps.

While in Joshua Tree another seed got planted. The clear night sky kept me up late studying the heavens above the desert. I made my first serious explorations of the night sky to record the magnificence of our Milky Way.  When I returned home to Point Reyes, I began watching the night sky, hopeful of an opportunity to photograph the stars here.  I watched above throughout this last summer, waiting for a time the moon was dark and the fog had left our coast. I watched and waited – and then, on a startlingly warm and clear night at the end of September, the right moment came! I went to Drakes Bay and was stunned to see the galactic core of the Milky Way setting adjacent to a favorite cliff.

That remarkable night, when the night sky at Point Reyes first opened for me, I became excited – there was no turning back.  For the next two months I ventured to my favorite beaches and made a number of starry sky photographs.  Most of them can be seen in my online gallery collection:  In early December, another new lens entered my life. The Zeiss Batis 2.8/18 is highly corrected for use in night photography. I took it out for a spin before 2016 ended.  In late December I finished my photography for the year with a night visit to Pierce Point Ranch on the northernmost reaches of the Point Reyes Peninsula. The next evening I visited Sky Trail on the flanks of Mt. Wittenberg. I’ve added these new photographs to the Night Sky Collection.

4 comments on “Stars Above, Stars Below

  1. Beautiful light, Marty. I love your unique black and white perspective on the starry night skies.

    • Thanks to John K., Rishi S. and Hadley J. for your positive comments.

      Hadley – in regard to using B&W for starscapes, aren’t there others doing this? I wouldn’t mind being fairly unique, but certainly there others posting B&W astrophotographs, eh?

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