San Diego’s seasoned timelapse filmmaker and photographer Michael Shainblum succeeds in cutting through California’s light pollution to expose lingering starlight that normally winks in and out of our skies. He hadn’t dabbled much with astronomy before discovering the night sky as a consenting muse, but his artistic background led him to capture and highlight her best side.
While he has been snapping stills of reality since before he can remember, Shainblum just recently received his Bachelor’s degree at the Brooks Institute for Photography in April 2013. His inspiration comes from nature’s dance of lights and shadows, and the endless possibilities of stepping beyond the Earth through film. California offers a plethora of stages for his photography, including various desert, mountain and coastal locations that for once serve as foreground accessories instead of background landscapes.
Beyond natural terrain, he often underlines the night sky with manmade features – roads, cars, and even well-placed dinosaur sculptures. To bring out the galaxy’s luster, Shainblum often takes advantage of natural lighting and effects. First, the green hues and unusual coloring of the night sky isn’t added – it is airglow – the natural emission of light in Earth’s upper atmosphere. Second, to combine what seems like a conflicting ability to capture both foreground and background light, he takes two photos at the same location and time but with different exposures. He then blends the two images together to allow the viewer see in a photo what they would have seen in person. But sometimes this isn’t necessary – often the moon and abundant stars lend themselves as natural lamps that highlight the foreground without added exposures.
Overall Shainblum plays well with space and light to feature our often forgotten chaperon the Milky Way Galaxy as a persistent beauty awaiting our gaze.