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Long Exposure Shots of Star Trails

long exposure of stars

Photographer David Stephenson attended the University of Colorado and after that went to the University of New Mexico, earning an MFA in 1982. He transferred to Australia that same year to teach photography at the University of Tasmania. He subsequently acquired a PhD there in Fine Arts in 2001. His absorption for outer space has led him to travel extensively around the world, with trips to Europe, the Himalayas, and the Arctic and Antarctic.

Star Drawings is a product of these twin passions of photography and outer space. He completed the work over a period of 11 years, from 1995 to 2006. Employing multiple techniques, Stephenson shot the night sky, producing lines, shapes and patterns created by the Earth’s rotation.

star trails long exposure shots

The methods he used included interval exposures and several long exposures. These techniques randomly produced very different photographs, making each shot a one-of-a-kind image. The night sky had seemingly turned into giant snow flake patterns or huge swirling, circular lines like a celestial whirlpool.

star trails

He shares,

“While the subject of my photographs has shifted from the landscapes of the American Southwest and Tasmania, and the minimal horizons of the Southern Ocean, and the icy wastes of Antarctica, to sacred architecture and the sky at both day and night, my art has remained essentially spiritual – for more than two decades I have been exploring a contemporary expression of the sublime – a transcendental experience of awe with the vast space and time of existence.”

star light trails

Some images resemble meteor showers or even weaves akin to fabric. Star Drawings is a virtual kaleidoscope of light drawn by the earth’s movment. Stephenson says he is engrossed with the immensity of time and space. He says all these efforts to shoot the sky are in search for the photographic sublime. His work, both photographs and video, have been exhibited internationally in countries including Scotland, New South Wales, Australia, and the United States. He currently resides and works in Hobart, Tasmania, where he is Associate Professor of Art at the University of Tasmania. He likewise acts as School Research Coordinator and Head of Photography at the Tasmanian School of Art. He also contributes to the University’s Arts and Environment Research group as co-director. Other notable projects from Stephenson are Light Cities (2008-2011), Vaults (2003-2009), Dusk to Dawn (2009), Antarctica (1991-1992, Domes (1993-2005), Skeletons (2001-2002), Composite Landscapes (1982-1988), and The New Monuments (1979-1981). Star Drawings can be viewed over at his website.

light trails night sky star

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Patricia Ramos the author

I am a freelance photographer who is no stranger to smudged lenses, long hours in front of the computer, heavy camera bags (and the back aches that ensued) and missing lens caps. If you know what I'm talking about, you probably have as much love and passion for photography as I do.

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