I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night – Sarah Williams, ‘The Old Astronomer to his Pupil’
I’ve had a lifelong interest in both astronomy and photography, but it’s only since I discovered a few years ago what digital photography could achieve with astronomical subjects compared to using film cameras that I started to put the two interests together.
Although I first started imaging astronomical subjects with a digital SLR through a telescope and was reasonably satisfied with the results, I soon came to realise that what really inspired me was the interplay between our earthly landscape and the night sky. That’s when I started to seek out interesting natural and man-made foregrounds to set against a backdrop of starry skies.
I spend a lot of time planning my shots by looking at OS maps, visiting potential locations during the daytime, checking compass bearings, checking planetarium software to see what’s in the night sky and in the right position at a particular time and date, checking the moon phase, and, not least, checking the weather forecast for clear skies!
Most of my nightscape imaging so far has been in the Yorkshire Dales, with their combination of breath-taking landscapes and dark skies free from light pollution. I visit other areas when I can – suggestions for interesting locations always welcome!
Thanks for looking at my work – I hope you like it and maybe it inspires you to have a go yourself. I am happy to do talks on nightscape imaging for astronomy and photography groups and societies.
And the inspiration for the website name Diamond Skies? A line from one of my favourite song lyrics – Mr Tambourine Man by Bob Dylan –
Take me disappearing through the smoke rings of my mind
Down the foggy ruins of time
Far past the frozen leaves
The haunted frightened trees
Out to the windy beach
Far from the twisted reach of crazy sorrow
Yes, to dance beneath the diamond sky
With one hand waving free
Silhouetted by the sea
Circled by the circus sands
With all memory of fate
Driven deep beneath the waves
Let me forget about today until tomorrow