My background was always more geared towards audio with some video in the mix. I was always adding speakers to everything. The stereo my dad had in the garage, vehicles, anything that had room for more speakers, I thought it needed more speakers. In high school, I got into a video production class where I really showed my interest in the technical side of things when I rewired our editing station and turned it into a makeshift TV station in the back of the classroom.
From there, I went on to college for a degree in digital media production. Still heavily interested in audio, I had always planned to open my own recording studio.
Things don’t always go as planned.
I worked retail before becoming a subcontractor. I picked up photography as a hobby, but I didn’t stick with it. I found that it just didn’t hold any appeal for me. Daytime photography just didn’t challenge me.
Several years later, my girlfriend (now fiancé) introduced me to milky way photography. I had never seen anything like it before and I said “I need to try that.” That was when I realized that the night sky is made up of more than just what we see and that there are things out there just beyond our ability to see with the naked eye. I discovered that being able to pull these hidden objects from the sky was very exciting and didn’t require a huge budget of highly sophisticated equipment.
My first milky way shot was taken with an 8 megapixel Canon Rebel XT and the kit 18-55mm lens on a $30 tripod. If I recall correctly, I paid $100 for the camera, so my first milky way shot was taken with a $130 investment. After that, I decided to invest in some better equipment. That first picture was not that great of a shot, but it is still one of my favorites because I still remember the feeling I got when I could see the faint outline in the tiny LCD preview. I knew I had gotten it after many tries on many different nights. It had finally worked. I have a fair amount of light pollution (Bortle class 5) being about 20 miles outside of the city, so I didn’t even know it was possible to see the milky way at night much less to get pictures of it.
Here Is my first milky way image. It's faint but you can just make it out on the right side. I barely knew what I was doing, taking 30 second exposures at ISO 800. This was the moment I knew I wanted to get better in this hobby.