Spring Valley, NV

“We are all stars in this galaxy. All of us. No one’s greater than the other.”

– Scatman Crothers

I guess I should amend the title just a little bit. Anyone who knows me already knows the answer. But that’s not what I’m talking about today. The title of this blog should read, The Most Beautiful of Photographic Subjects (Non-Nude)”. Yes. That would be more accurate. 

Every photographer who enjoys photography has one thing they love to photograph. If you were paying attention, you noticed my qualifier… “who enjoys photography”. To some, shooting is a job and when they are done with the job, the last thing they want to do is hold a camera in their hands when they aren’t getting paid. I can respect that! I’ve known some who gladly tell you when they are done with work, the camera goes into the bag and no force of nature can make them pick it up again until time to clock back in. 

I am not one of those people. I shoot for my own interests as well as professionally. So for myself and photographers who can identify, we all have something we’ve developed a fondness to shoot. It could be anything (not including selfies and you kid/pet pics). Landscape is likely the most popular genre of photography, although I don’t have any empirical data to support that hypothesis. I would say Bird and Wildlife is the next most popular, followed by Portraiture. But other genres include, Food, Still Life, Street Photography, Macro, Fashion, Sports… I could go on. 

Northern Colombia

Everybody has their thing. Mine? Aside from Art Nudes? I’d have to say it’s photographing the Milky Way. My good friend, John Kompare was the first to suggest going out in the middle of the night to photograph the stars. If memory serves, we went out to the Eldorado Dry Lake bed just outside Las Vegas before you come to Boulder City. We ventured out with our tripods and cameras ready to capture the night sky. I had a huge stainless-steel (or maybe aluminum) tripod and was ready to do my thing. 

Learning is still the most interesting aspect of photography to me. What I thought I knew turned to to be absolutely incorrect. In my mind, I’m taking pinpoints of light that are very far away. Of course that meant a small aperture. AND you’re photographing light sources. Any idiot knows you need a fast shutter speed for that. Click I take my shot. NOTHING. Just blackness. I thought I’d left my lens cap on. Nope. Had my camera malfunctioned? What the hell? 

Just for giggles, I extended the shutter speed to an exaggerated degree, in an attempt to get something…. anything. And that’s all I got… something. I opened up my aperture. Boom! There were the stars. DAMN! I was the idiot! I had to sit back and think about how this worked, but yeah. I learned something new that evening. Stars may be light sources, but they are TINY light sources. This wasn’t like shooting the moon. 

Virgin River, Utah

Sadly, I can’t recall the details of seeing the Milky Way for the first time. I was in the military somewhere. It was in the middle of the night and pitch black under the trees. When out route took us into the edge of the treeline, I recall gazing skyward, seeing the cluster of stars, but had no clue what I was looking at. And just the same, most people I talk to now have never seen the Milky Way. We live in cities with so much light pollution, it’s impossible to see. I wasn’t taught this in school. Sure, I knew OF the Milky Way galaxy, but friggin’ nobody told me it was possible to SEE it. I knew of Saturn and the different planets. Nobody told me I could see them! 

The earth is in a unique position within the Milky Way galaxy. You may have heard how the earth sits in the Goldilocks (or habital) Zone in our solar system. We are in an orbit around the sun that’s not too close to make oceans boil and not too far away that they freeze. Our solar system orbits within the Goldilocks Zone of the Milky Way on one of the spiral arms that is not too close and not to far from the center. Therefore we are able to view the interior of our galaxy and when we look outward, we still see another cluster of stars from the outer arm of our galaxy. 

Rhyolite, NV

Right now, is the end of the season to see the Milky Way. Spring to mid-Fall is the season to view the Milky Way galaxy. You can still go out and see a sky full of stars, but you won’t see the center of the Milky Way because during the late Fall and Winter months, the earth’s tilts our plane of view the other way. It’s been a while since I have photographed the Milky Way, but it remains the most beautiful thing I’ve seen that isn’t a nude woman. I invite you all to enjoy the dark night sky. Las Vegas is the brightest place on the planet at night. I’ve driven maybe an hour north, looked back, and you can still see the Milky Way in the southern sky. Always look south. You can use a night sky app to see exactly where and when the Milky Way will be up. 

I invite you to join an astronomy club and hopefully they have a telescope for you to witness Saturn or Jupiter. Visit a planetarium in your city. Learn about the celestial bodies of our solar system. Get some binoculars and check out the moon! Or at the very least, grab your camera and tripod and go out someplace dark, with minimal light pollution, where you can see the unobstructed night sky and see what you can capture. I would say the next most beautiful, which I’ve never seen yet, would be the aurora borealis. How about you?

Rhyolite, NV