Orion Over West Mitten or "Why I Love Nature Photography"

December 04, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

Orion and Barnard's Loop Over West MittenOrion and Barnard's Loop Over West MittenThis widefield astronomical image combines the light of the Milky Way, Orion, the Great Nebula in Orion, Barnard's Loop and the nebula in Monoceros with a silhouette of West Mitten in Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park. This image is part of a series I've worked on providing timescale perspective to life on earth. The light from Orion is 1.430 years distant. What we see is light that was emitted It illuminates a formation in the Cutler Formation whose age is estimated at 160 million years. Together, these powerful symbols suggest the impermanence of human presence and influence on this land.

[Image creation notes] This image is a single 2-minute exposure on a polar equatorial mount that counteracts the rotation of the earth and allows the faint signals from the stars to be accumulated over time. The image is processed as an astronomical image, stretching the light signal in processing to reveal the colors inherent in the night sky. Duplicate image layers are overlaid to add contrast and saturation. Original detail from the monument's surface was masked back in to add texture to the silhouette.

I love nature photography because the practice provides a reason to get out and experience the essential intangibles of human life. Wonder, awe, fear, discovery, curiosity. I get to experience healing things, and novel sensations. I’ve seen the shadow of the soul of an elk as it left its body, brought down by wolves. I’ve been part of a little band, camping on a river as the face of the Creator reveals itself in the night sky’s aurora borealis. And like a lot of people, I’ve felt the telepathic brush of minds that sometimes comes from an encounter with whales or orcas.

Enchantment by mystery and the quest for discovery are woven into our DNA. Play, explore, and create outdoors, where nature’s mysteries can unfold for you and infuse your spirit with joy and peace.

One of my favorite outdoor discoveries is that the light of the stars carry their own perceptible energy. I learned from a visit to one of the darkest night sky spots in the US, with no moon, the light of the Milky Way casts a shadow. And with a few hours acclimation, skin can feel the difference between being in the starlight, and in its shadow.

Whenever I have the luxury of getting out in the deep starlight, I’m overwhelmed by the time scale of the universe. In the sight of objects that are hundreds of millions of years old, lit by the fire of billions of stars from millions of light years away, I can put my concerns and cares in perspective. We’re here for a brief time, and the universe will go on without us. It’s up to us to find the meaning and significance of the the life we’ve been given.

***

This widefield astronomical image combines the light of the Milky Way, Orion, the Great Nebula in Orion, Barnard's Loop and the nebula in Monoceros with a silhouette of West Mitten in Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park. This image is part of a series I've worked on providing timescale perspective to life on earth. The light from Orion is 1.430 years distant. What we see is light that was emitted It illuminates a formation in the Cutler Formation whose age is estimated at 160 million years. Together, these powerful symbols suggest the impermanence of human presence and influence on this land.

[Image creation notes] This image is a single 2-minute exposure on a polar equatorial mount that counteracts the rotation of the earth and allows the faint signals from the stars to be accumulated over time. The image is processed as an astronomical image, stretching the light signal in processing to reveal the colors inherent in the night sky. Duplicate image layers are overlaid to add contrast and saturation. Original detail from the monument's surface was masked back in to add texture to the silhouette.


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