Like many people, I have always been fascinated by space. And, like many people, it all started during childhood. Surprisingly, I didn’t really dream of becoming an astronaut: I simply wanted to be an astronomer, study the planets, the stars, the galaxies, discover new worlds…
But living in the suburbs of Paris, a city that is as beautiful as it is light-polluted at night, admiring the constellations is quite a challenge! Therefore, my interest for astronomy has always been like a dim and distant nebula. Occasionally, it resurfaced as while travelling to more remote locations, watching documentaries on TV or enjoying my favorite Sci-Fi movies.
A few years ago, as a student, I discovered photography. My first camera, a Nikon D60, started following me in all my adventures, and photography quickly became a passion. It taught me how to see and made me even more curious about people, nature, architecture…
In 2011, I had the opportunity to spend the last semester of my Masters studies in Finland. The beauty of the Scandinavian landscapes was a target of choice for my camera, feeding my ever growing appetite for photography. The Finnish skies were fantastic as well, and that’s where I took my first ever photograph of the stars.
But what I will always remember, is the night when I saw and photographed an aurora borealis for the first time… I had never witness such a beautiful phenomenon, and though I was still a newbie photographer, my pictures turned out great!
I still can’t believe today how lucky I was. My Nikon D60 didn’t have a live view mode, my kit lens was very basic, and my skills very limited. I had to focus manually and guess the settings, but it worked well. Beginner’s luck?
And that’s how it started!
From this moment on, my passion for photography literally skyrocketed, and so did my obsession with the night sky. I jumped on every (and, sadly, scarce) occasion to photograph it. Back to France, the Moon and the Milky Way were my first victims.
After a few years in Paris, I decided to move to Germany, in Munich. Southern Bavaria is luckily much less light polluted than Paris, especially as you get closer to the Bavarian Alps.
This was also an important step for me: intrigued by deep-sky astrophotography, I purchased my first mount, and iOptron SkyTracker Pro. This modest entry-level mount is perfect to get started with astrophotography, and opened up a new range of targets and techniques.
The Deep Sky Imaging Primer by Charles Bracken really helped me understand the fundamental concepts behind astrophotography, and I can wholeheartedly recommend this book to anyone getting started.
Astrophotography has a steep learning curve, and differs greatly from daytime photography. You need to know how a sensor works, how to setup an equatorial mount, understand a few things in physics, optics and geometry, find your way in the night skies, and finally, master the various pieces of software used in astrophotography.
Today, I am still at the beginning of my journey, but in just a year, I made substantial progress (as you can see below). And there is so much left to discover!
Why this blog?
Astrophotography has seemed unreachable to me for a long time. The Internet is full of marvelous pictures of the universe, most of them made by amateur astronomers in their garden. But naively, I thought that one needed very expensive equipment to achieve such results. But I was wrong.
After experimenting myself with a very limited gear, I realized that astrophotography was actually within the grasp of anyone with a camera and a tripod. Add a small equatorial mount, and you gain access to an even broader range of targets.
When sharing my first pictures on the Internet, I received a lot of wows and questions from other amateur photographers. Just like me a couple years ago, these pictures seemed to them impossible to make!
This is how the idea of a blog was born. I liked the idea, from a beginner’s perspective, of sharing my experience, my progress, and, hopefully, inspire other amateurs photographers to give it a try.
David Bowie loved space. Starman, Life on Mars? and of course Space Oddity are among my favourite songs, and they often keep me company when I’m looking for new space oddities to photograph :)