I long admired the night scenes I saw on popular photography websites like Flikr and Google+. It was early on in my photography journey that I came across these wonderful depictions of the Milky Way, and other celestial bodies. While living in North Carolina, the work responsibilities I imposed on myself prevented any exploration in this area. Fortunately, moving to New Zealand not only afforded me the time, it also has some of the darkest skies on the planet (minimal light pollution).
At first it was purely an exploration of the technique it requires to shoot a beautiful night scene. Once technique was established, then it was a matter of finding compelling night compositions. The process has become almost all but automatic, and therefore I can spend more time truly exploring the surroundings and partaking in the stillness. Being outdoors is therapeutic, but being outdoors at night is a whole new level. There are many a back road in Dunedin where ambient light is non-existent. I do my best to keep my headlamp off whenever possible (even when it costs me a broken leg). There is so much to experience when one's sight becomes less sensitive. In a country like New Zealand, with no dangerous predators, being out in the dark is extremely safe (even in the middle of the back-country).
If you are in North America, always be mindful of your surroundings when shooting at night. I wish it were as safe as New Zealand, but that is, unfortunately, not the case. This doesn't mean astrophotography is unattainable, it just means one has to work harder for a unique shot.
If you'd like to learn how I captured the shot below, and the editing process behind the final image, please reach out to me on the contact page. Coaching, and teaching, are my passion, along with photography and outdoor activities!