In late July of 2020 the northern hemisphere had a surprise visitor, Comet Neowise. Even when one knew exactly where to find it in the night sky it was difficult to see, so when a neighbor sent me a picture that she had taken on her digital camera clearly showing it, I decided I should give it a try. That night I went out and lined up the comet with a neighbor’s farm and voila!
I shoot directly to my computer, so I see the images as I take them, so I knew that I had a serviceable image as I took it. I was absolutely amazed at how much the comet showed up compared to how visible it was to the naked eye. As I was driving home I remember thinking to myself: if this faint comet shows up this well to my camera, I wonder what the Milky Way would look like?
The Perseid meteor shower was a couple weeks after this, which gave me another opportunity to see how the heavens can be captured digitally. I went to a nearby Amish neighbor and asked him if I could photograph his barn the night of the meteor shower, which Melvin graciously agreed to. That is when serendipity struck a second time: I remembered a tried and true advertising photography technique that I had not seen done in decades, painting with light. Back in the day of film photography, a popular technique with studio photographers, was to use the tragically named Hosemaster to light the product. The technique involved the Hosemaster’s fiber optic light at the end of a pliable hose to light the product in a completely dark room so that the photographer could do multiple exposures on a single piece of film, lighting the pertinent parts of the product. Why couldn’t I scale up that idea of painting with light to the size of a barn? Boldly venturing forth with a borrowed flashlight from my neighbor, I produced the image named “Perseid Barn”. After seeing the finished image that I put together in photoshop it was truly game on!
Since then I have driven over 3,000 miles scouting photography locations in Vernon County alone. New moon periods are spent photographing interesting sights in and around the Driftless region. I hope you enjoy my vision!