June ended under the pitch black skies at the slopes of Mt.Parnon, with a good forecast and the great company of other amateur astrophotographers. I was a bit tired after a long week of work but in need to relax doing my favorite sport..Star Surfing.
I think the great thing about landscape astrophotography is all the stuff you getting into before you start shooting. Even the small things like preparing a meal or making some coffee, building your tent, or just relaxing, feels so crisp and fills you with great satisfaction. While hiking or wandering in the woods, trying to find some interesting compositions, you get to become lighter as your thoughts being left behind along with your traces. Your mind is so quite. You are free. Then miracles unfold before your eyes:
The whispering forest, the passing clouds, the restless sea, the vast silence of the open views, the cold dance of the blinking stars and the constantly changing light that rules them all.
As the sweet tiredness conquers all, you have seen so many beautiful wonders that your mind sinks into a different state of self awareness. Your inner landscape is changing.
The deep breaths, the constant movement, the quietness of the mind, the vigilance of the senses, the weird feeling that you are Home. You are on Zen mode.
Doesn’t matter if you got the shot, you are out there, exposed to the unknown, with every single moment turned into a unique experience and adventure. The shot you dreamed of finally will come to find you. But its gonna take a while. You have to make all the mistakes and do them all over again. Every single photo that i create has mistakes and is full with flaws of my character. But i keep learning. The real challenge is not to beat the physical limits of your equipment but to let go of yourself and get out of your comfort zone. Imo, a good milky way photo isn’t about pinpoint stars and noise free raw, but to find the way to catch the fleeting feel of awe that fills up your heart under the wilderness of our Cosmos. To be able to do that you have to be comfortable with the night. No one can teach you that. I believe, it has to grown up on you.
You can learn from others, but in the end you have to teach yourself.
We are all bitching about light pollution, but the truth is that we fear of the dark. Our cameras have small dynamic range but the real problem is the lack of patience in order to shoot multiple exposures. Our lens has coma and CA but the truth is, we are too bored to try fixing it in post process. We are complaining about those who create “digital art milky ways” but our process is the same from the age of photoshop 1.3 without inspiration, we are doomed to copy each other. We always searching for the best camera and lens combo to shoot the stars, but the reality is that we can not hike 50ft from our car to search for a decent view.
And finally, all comes down to this “My milky way is better than yours” & how many likes we were able to score. This is the Ego mode. I get it. We live in the fast and furious social middle age. We can be instafamous, instalovers, insta products of our copy paste productivity. We are all trapped in that state. I believe if only we could overcome this behaviour, then our way of experiencing our own experiences would instantly level up.
Those are the real problems we have to overcome. Astrophotography will excite us, it will piss us off, it will make us feel exhausted just for a single image that few will notice. We have to “man up” or go home.
Sharing the joy of the night sky with friends often wont be doable. Finding your way into the darkness, being familiar with the sounds of the living forest, taking care of your self in difficult conditions, stop shooting and being able to relax and enjoy the whole experience, its all part of the great things astrophotography has to offer.
In the Cratylus, Socrates makes a false etymological consumption about the origin of the word “Άνθρωπος” (in English means Man), he claims that άνθρωπος=άνω+θρώσκω which means the one who’s head is up. Even if this is wrong, i really believe that his thought is dead on target. We look at the stars and our feet is on the earth. A conscious Man is the real connection between those two. Trying to catch that bond on camera obscura, could be called Landscape Astrophotography.
σημαίνει τοῦτο τὸ ὄνομα ὁ «ἄνθρωπος» ὅτι τὰ μὲν ἄλλα θηρία ὧν ὁρᾷ οὐδὲν ἐπισκοπεῖ οὐδὲ ἀναλογίζεται οὐδὲ ἀναθρεῖ, ὁ δὲ ἄνθρωπος ἅμα ἑώρακεν—τοῦτο δ’ ἐστὶ τὸ «ὄπωπε» —καὶ ἀναθρεῖ καὶ λογίζεται τοῦτο ὃ ὄπωπεν. ἐντεῦθεν δὴ μόνον τῶν θηρίων ὀρθῶς ὁ ἄνθρωπος «ἄνθρωπος» ὠνομάσθη, ἀναθρῶν ἃ ὄπωπε.
(A fellow photographer asked me to make a post in English, i hope that you could make sense out of my bad use of the language).