STARSCAPES by Al Bernstein
The night is magic. In the quiet dark, with the bright universe unfolding above, anything seems possible. Distant galaxies can move close enough to touch your heart and stir your soul.
As a photographer, I have longed to capture this magical feeling in images I could share. Only recently has technology made this possible. At night, digital sensors can see more than human eyes, allowing me to show you a scene as it exists in my imagination.
These photos are taken with an ultra-wide lens and the sensitivity set as high as it can go ( ISO 6400 in most of these images) The exposure time must be under thirty seconds to prevent the movement of the earth from turning the stars into streaks. The streaks you do see are small meteors -- shooting stars -- that, until I started taking these photos, I thought were rare.
To be visually interesting, a photo has to have a foreground, which in most night scenes presents merely as a silhouette darker than the sky. The trick in these images is in illuminating the foreground. Sometimes the ambient light is enough. Astronomers call this light pollution, but to a photographer, it can be a thing of beauty, especially when it bounces off low clouds.
In the darkest places, I paint the foreground with light, using a stationery panel for close objects, or brushstrokes of a spotlight beam for things more distant.
Some relatively minor post-processing in Photoshop is necessary to bring out the colors in the sky and the Milky Way. To our eyes, the night sky is black. To a digital sensor, the color varies according to temperature and moisture in the air, going from rusty brown, to green, blue or magenta. You never know what you will see until it’s on the screen.
I hope you enjoy these images of familiar landscapes touched by the magic of the night.