I am so very stoked to be chosen as the winner of The 2016 International Earth & Sky Photo Contest. My image of the Northern Lights shot last October from the top of Mount Reinebringen, in Lofoten, was selected as the winner in the Against the Lights category and overall contest winner.
The image was shot on October the 7th 2015, during one of the most beautiful Aurora displays I have ever witnessed. A big thank you goes to my wife Anca, who joined me for this camping trip up the mountain and who understands all my nocturnal escapades for shooting the night sky.
That day, I looked at some satellite data and decided we should go up as something was going to happen. Being an astrophysicist helps a lot when shooting the Northern Lights as it gives you a deeper understanding of the phenomenon and lets you better plan your photo sessions. Went up around 7PM and, as soon as the Sun set, the sky went on fire. Green, purple, pink fire. What an amazing night we had.
I started astrophotography a long time ago, when I was 13 years old. Now, I am 32. I’m not doing it for the contests, I’m not doing it for international fame and thousands of followers on social networks. I’m doing it out of curiosity and for the feelings I get when I am under a starry sky. But, most of all I’m doing it for the people. I’m doing it for the people who have never seen the Milky Way, the Aurora or the Great Andromeda Galaxy. I’m doing it to inspire people to go out and look at the night sky.
A big thank you too all judges and people involved in the contest. Contest judge Jim Richardson comments that “Scenes from Mt Reinebringen are often beautiful, but this one stood out. Somehow the aurora twisting in the sky seems to echo the winding lights along the shores of the coastal town in the far north.” Judge David Malin adds “The delicate tracery of the aurorae perfectly complement the enclosed harbour. Apart from the aesthetics, the pin-point stars and well-judged exposure reveal a high level of technical competence.”
The contest submission begins every year in March and ends on the Earth Day April 22, as part of the Global Astronomy Month, worldwide activities coordinated by Astronomers Without Borders and organised by the astronomy community to share the beauty of the night sky with others. The 8th International Earth & Sky Photo Contest will be announced in early March 2017. Read more about this year’s contest, here.
Here’s a fantastic video made from the best photos submitted to the contest. Looking at the video makes me humble and happy to be in the company of so many great astrophotographers from allover the world producing such amazing photos. Huge congrats to all of you!
In the end, I live you with a quote from Babak Tafreshi, the chair of the contest. Please read carefully and apply.
“Digital processing is essential in any style of photography today, specially when dealing with challenging low-light conditions but its valuable to preserve the natural look and colours of the sky and the originality of a photograph (compared to digital art). I highly recommend avoiding the habit of saturated processing. Some of the entries shows the Milky Way central bulge in all colours of the spectrum, from romantic blue, to purple and red, compared to its natural pale-yellow colour. This was not a major issue in the analog time where we were limited in processing and the night sky photography community was small and well informed about the nature of their imaging subject. If we consider night sky a part of our nature it should be treated the same way in photography. A photo of a blue sunset is clearly a wrong camera white balance or was taken on Mars! However due to our disconnection with the night sky in modern life most public and media are not familiar with natural sky looks and get excited with such exotic looking images and by sharing and publishing those the issue gets worse. The real winner images in our contest are not those with exotic colours and saturation but the creative and well planned photos captured in the right place at the right time, a scene which will not easily repeat with the same configuration of the Earth and sky.”
Clear and dark skies!