Ever since I visited the Mt Stromlo Observatory in Canberra as a child in the early 60’s, I’ve been captive to the stars. Those grainy black and white prints of the milky way that I bought then, that for years remained on my bedroom wall, filled me with wonderment and a desire to see more, and ultimately led me a few years ago to begin the journey into nightscape and astrophotography.
At the start it seems a steep learning curve, but with patience and practice comes a moderate degree of success. My inspiration for getting up in the pre-dawn darkness, or venturing out late at night to image the sky is partly the personal challenge, but also the hope that in some small way it might bring that same sense of wonderment to the viewer.
To capture the Milky Way as it arches across the sky or the planets falling into the twilight while trying to convey the emotion of that moment in time to the viewer, is a challenge that never ceases. Astrophotography allows us to see into the past, and the images made, show however imperfectly what our own non-digital eyes can only dream about.
A year ago, I moved from the rolling hills of the Central West, NSW – the place where fog is born, and where the icy dawn was my companion for many days. The night sky there was the darkest I’ve ever experienced, and in the silence, the Sagittarius Arm fell like diamonds and stardust across the landscape. The memory of frozen hands has travelled with me now to warmer climes in Jervis Bay on the South Coast of NSW where another chapter has begun.
For this past year, the soundtrack of my life has been the rhythmic movement of the ocean after the sun has gone – often lapping at my feet on some half seen moss covered rock platform, or the shoreline – while overhead star cities filled the sky. These have been extraordinary nights.
The Night Land and Night Shores – those dark solitary hours between the twilights. It is easy to harbour a fear of the dark. We live connected to light throughout our life, and find it difficult to head out into the night away from our suburban backyard and stand under the stars alone. The unfamiliar, the strangeness. But, whenever I’ve made that decision to abandon the car and walk along some lonely headland or across frozen fields to places like these, though it’s often been a challenge … the reward is priceless.