RBA & AF Astrophotography

5 Milky Way Photo Concepts You May Want To Avoid This Year

Posted: July 7th, 2017

Horatian satire: Satire in which the voice is indulgent, tolerant, amused, and witty. The speaker holds up to gentle ridicule the absurdities and follies of human beings, aiming at producing in the reader not the anger of a Juvenal, but a wry smile.

Nightscape photography is a form of art and, as in any artistic discipline, anything is valid as long as it's legal and you're honest about it. The list of do's and do not's is strictly personal, as are your goals, motivation, abilities and budget!  Neither avoiding nor embracing the concepts I'm listing here will make you any better or worst Milky Way photographer.

With that out of the bag, here's my opinion about five nightscape concepts that will definitely NOT make your creative abilities shine and are likely NOT going to catch anyone by surprise this year, except perhaps some of your neighbors and relatives :-)

NOTE: All the images in the article are my own, so before you think I'm lecturing you, please realize I'm "criticizing" (more like satirizing) my own work, thanks :-)

The "headlight" shot

Well, this one has to stop. Really folks. It's fun and entertaining to get these shots, I get it, but you should know by now that other than yourself, no one will be amused by seeing you standing up there with that cone of light emanating from your forehead anymore. Your viewers would mostly care about everything in the image but that, and would likely wish you had stayed behind the camera for this one, or at least turn that spot light off.

The fact is, this concept became old-fashioned two or three years ago already, but it has no sign to stop... Art has no limits, and no one is to tell you how should you have fun, but when you repeat the same concept over and over, you are in fact, limiting yourself to doing what's already been done.

The tent shot

A few years ago it became fashionable shooting nightscapes, usually mountain-based, with a precarious tent somewhere in the scene is being lit up from the inside. The feelings such images depict are very attractive indeed: coziness, adventure, the million stars hotel... Who wouldn't like to capture all these emotions in a beautifully composed night shot?

The problem is that, as it always happens when a concept is abused, when you've seen a hundred of those, those feelings start to dissipate, and what once was genius at work, is now dull, repetitive and no longer inspiring. Now it is up to the view, not the concept itself, to provide something intriguing. So next time you think of this concept, focus on the view and forget the tent, we've seen it in about 27 different colors already.

Apologies for not including a "sample" shot. Although I have nightscapes with tents in them, they aren't quite the same concept I'm describing here (they are much more unassuming, which wouldn't help).

The road shot

Ever seen a photograph of a road - paved or otherwise - and the Milky Way rising about where the road seems to end? That's another sexy concept brought to irrelevance by abusing it.Way, way, way too much! As in "Do you know any nightscape photographer who has NOT taken one of these?"

Yes, almost everyone I know has one. I do, too - although I admit it felt so uninspiring that I decided to tilt it and suddenly I felt I was racing, what do you know! No, I was not on drugs.

It gets even worst if you're tempted to name your image "Road to the Stars", "Highway to Heaven","Path to the Universe" and other predictable and overused names. Just don't bother.

The tree under the arch shot

The concept here is positioning a single tree in the middle of the image, coinciding with being right under the center arch of the Milky Way. Powerful concept, indeed. In fact, all concepts I'm listing here are powerful. That's probably what turned them into such predictable targets.

Someone might be wondering why I'm not listing "Milky Way and trees" and instead I'm specific to this particular framing. Here's why... Trees are one of the most powerful photog magnets - meaning they attract us photographers like a magnet :-) day or night. Suggesting someone to not shoot at a tree and the Milky Way makes almost as much sense as suggesting not to include the Milky Way either. Trees give us plenty of game and opportunities, perspectives, game of lights and shadows... Trees are awesome!!

In this particular framing, however, many of those opportunities and games are gone, and we're stuck with a mathematically centered tree under a mathematically centered arch. There's game, but greatly reduced, not to mention that during Milky Way season there's about 10 of them popping up nearly every day. At the very least,shuffle things around a bit, move the trees to the side or something!

The "top of the world" shot

Do you know what I always think when I see this classic shot of someone standing on top of some sort of rock or elevated area, usually an incredibly hard to reach spot? That I'd rather see the image as the person was trying to get there! :-)

Yes, it's another classic. And that's why perhaps you should try to avoid it. Did I say avoid it? Well, you know what I mean. But yeah, please, take a bunch of shots while your fearless friend is getting to that crazy spot! The end shot looks well in a travel magazine, but we want the real thing, the action!! ...not the staged pose. This ain't Hollywood and even if it was, we've already seen the movie.

As if it couldn't get any worst, the subject in the image seems to not being able to keep their arms from stretching all the way up. Oh boy, seriously?

I have not published any of this kind of shots. This is the closest it gets, and I have to admit, I like it a lot. Would have I liked it should I have been on the top of that dune while stretching my arms to the sky? Nah.... I'm too tiny in the image, anyway (which I love), no one would be able to tell! :-)

Wrapping up, all these are powerful concepts that make for great photography from the get go, and can be just ridiculously amazing when well planned and executed. Can a new shot that uses any of these concepts still make our jaws drop? Absolutely! Can we have fun replicating what others have done a million times? Yeah, we can. Yet, what can be more fun and rewarding than avoiding the beaten path? In the end, if you're out there, you're already ahead of most human beings. Now, go further!


Follow me on Facebook [https://www.facebook.com/DeepSkyColors/] and Instagram [https://www.instagram.com/deepskycolors/]



harald (Contact, Page), July 21st, 2017, 6:04
Well, these are your opinions... only you've said this, never heard it by someone else so just let ppl do what they like.

RBA (Contact, Page), July 21st, 2017, 9:16
Harald, most of the post isn't my opinion but a satire, and exaggeration. The bottom line of the post is not to tell people what to do, but to encourage them - through a satire - to not just settle.

Lidia Herrera (Contact, Page), November 30th, 2017, 17:32
Your pic's are simply and unforgetable awesome, my deep congratulations, Rogelio.

RBA (Contact, Page), December 1st, 2017, 22:28
Thank you so much Lidia!!

Post a comment
Your name:
Email: (we don't share this!)
Your web site:  (if you have one)

(you have 1000 characters left)