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Ad astra per aspera…


The title for this shot is latin for “To the stars, through difficulties.” By which I mean, some shots look deceivingly simple, but are anything but. Take this one, for instance. We’ve all gazed up at the sky since we were kids and picked out the seven stars that fill the outline of the Big Dipper. I love stargazing and especially at the beach on a moonless night, when this image was taken. But despite the “simple” composition, I can assure you this scene took a lot of effort to finally achieve. After setting up the tripod  I practiced over and over again on random star shots to figure out the right exposure. Too short and the stars were too dim; too long and they begin to show trails. Too little ISO and you get nothing; too much and you have an abundance of noise. Even basic exposure was a highly technical challenge! But once I finally got to the right exposure setting, i realized I had another challenge. I had set up my tripod, of course and while it was easy to focus on a random patch of night sky for starlight, actually capturing the constellation, in its entirety, was nearly impossible at night, through my lens. Because the pinpricks of light were so tiny, I literally could see nothing but blackness! I decided to simply widen my frame of view, roughly calculate the angle I was shooting at, relative to my naked eye’s viewing of the Dipper, and fired. Within a couple of shots, I had my prize.

Again, this shot won’t win any awards for artistic composition or exceptional talent or skill, but as a serious amateur photographer, I think it’s important not to rest on laurels, continuing to shoot what comes easy. This shot was a personal challenge for me, and one that, after a lot of work, rewarded me with a “personal best.” So keep shooting for the stars! Hope you enjoy…

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