Being such naive and dreaming creatures, we endure the uncertainty of mortality with the conviction that, every now and then, we may get a glimpse of eternity while witnessing the sublime.
Believing that certain types of beauty carry an unquestionable transcendence, we pursue them to alleviate the anguish of not belonging anywhere, thus easing our inborn fear of cosmic solitude.
This night was a night of relief…
I love shooting iconic places, as there is usually a main reason why they became iconic: their unique beauty and perfect placement of natural elements, compensating for their predictability. Yet, during all those years, I feel that there’s nothing more pleasing than searching for undiscovered or unusual places to photograph, where the effort and the thrill of scouting and exploring makes the whole experience so much more intense.
I spent one whole week in May in the vast plains of Alentejo, in the South of Portugal, searching for new places for Night/Milky way photography. I only had one pre-planned spot I wanted to photograph, one of the largest holm oak trees of Europe, only to find it wasn’t suitable at all for Milky Way shooting, due to its orientation relative to the night sky, so I had to give up on that plan, as I don’t do composite photography.
So, the rest of the week was filled with pure scouting, traversing endless dirt roads, checking maps, crossing fences, evading ticks, spiders and all kinds of insects, spending the whole night doing photo experiences, sleeping till late, having dinner at crazy hours and repeating the experience all over again the next days…
After much searching, I finally found an incredible place that seemed just perfect for night photography, with three mirrored trees perfectly positioned right in front of the place where the Milky Way was supposed to slowly rise during the night, and I just needed the full cooperation of the weather gods to make the image become reality.
After a failed first night attempt, everything lined up perfectly on the second night. The intense typical heat of Portugal’s summer days gave place to a pleasantly warm night with virtually no wind, perfectly still and mirror-like water and totally clear skies. The three hours that ensued were made of pure simple pleasure of photographing, choosing angles, trying different tripod heights and focal lengths, struggling to separate, balance and line up the trees with the milky way, all the process happening in something resembling the much talked about state of “flow”, a rare but precious occurrence that is such a blessing nowadays.
I wanted to get as much detail out of the sky as possible so I made three consecutive exposures of the sky for each composition, later lining up the chosen exposures with “Sequator”, to reduce noise and increase detail extraction. As usual, I used the light pollution in the background as a way to add tonal richness to the image, as I always try to translate the awe I felt with all my senses, into the two-dimensional medium of photography.
All images are available for licensing or sale as print. Contact me for more info.