Documenting the Universe

Documenting the Universe

A Photographer’s Perspective on Protecting Dark Skies

Guest: Landon Hale

Download a high quality pdf version of this article here

Why do you like shooting night skies?

Shooting night skies is a special experience because it allows me to capture the brilliance of the universe in a photograph and bring forth a volume of light that may not be seen so simply by the naked eye. It’s an escape into nature with a tool that captures light and preserves memories. It’s being a documentarian of a sky that existed millions of years ago. I also believe that it’s some sort of primal instinct to be out in nature searching for something. When I am out shooting astrophotography I feel like I look at the world differently because I am dealing with landscapes in the dark, using foreground elements to bring relevance to the sky.

When and why did you get into astrophotography?

I grew up camping with my dad and my grandpa. When I was really young we were always going on trips into very remote places and my grandpa, being an astronomy enthusiast, would teach me about the stars, galaxies and solar systems. My dad would always sit out late at night waiting for shooting stars and satellites. I feel like this ingrained an interest in me at a young age and as soon as I figured out I could capture these things with a camera I started shooting. Astrophotography was one of the first forms of photography I got interested in. Aside from the sky, being alone in nature is such an important thing in my life. It has always rejuvenated me and I tend to be chasing those moments frequently. It’s important to enjoy the earth we live on and getting out into nature develops a respect and appreciation that I don’t think I would have found any other way.

What is the value of astrophotography in protecting dark landscapes?

Astrophotography is a documentation of the current state of the Universe. It is a visual representation of how we see and interact with the stars around us. If you shoot a photograph in the wilderness and compare it to one shot in or around the city, you will see a striking difference between the two due to light pollution. Using photographs we can bring awareness to the ways light is affecting our dark skies in different areas all around the world. With awareness comes change and if people are informed on the impact light has on our dark skies and the benefits dark skies have for us, then certain things can be put into place to limit the amount of light pollution being emitted each day and night.

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