Photographing The Desert Sky

Alessandro Crugnola is Aviary's lead Android developer and a long time photography aficionado. He recently traveled to Utah to attend a night photography workshop and returned with a series of spectacular images. He shares his experience under the Utahn sky.

My passion for photography started out as just a hobby. It wasn't until I moved to New York that my interest became serious and I started to get into night photography.  But what I really wanted to shoot it was impossible to find in the city: the Milky Way. 

Utah, unlike New York, has no light pollution and it is home to some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world, like the Arches National Park, Bryce Canyon and Monument Valley. They are not only breathtaking in daylight but also perfect for astrophotography because the scenery becomes the perfect foreground. 

When I discovered that one of my favorite photographers, Mike Taylor, was hosting a workshop in Moab, Utah, it was the perfect hook. I’ve never taken photography classes before, so I didn’t know what to expect. Mike was an amazing instructor! He covered all the aspects of night photography from planning to camera settings, post production and even SEO tips.

Here are the results of the workshop. The stars give me a sense of peace and emptiness. It's hard to describe in words, so I wanted to capture these moments and feelings in photographs.

One of the greatest advantages of a group workshop is that you get so many points of view. Even though we were all in the same location, each of us chose different positions, angles and foreground objects and created entirely unique photos. It helped to open my mind and my eyes. 

The biggest lesson I learned from this trip is that you should be prepared to anything. One day I decided to drive to the North Window to photograph the sunset. But once I got there, a thunderstorm hit and I decided to shoot lightning instead. I quickly switched out my lens, mounted the camera on a tripod and took almost 400 pictures (at 3” exposure) using the intervalometer. 

The whole experience in Utah was simply amazing. I learned so much from Mike and the group and I'm happy to have finally captured the Milky Way. I will definitely return next year!

You can see more of Ale's photos on his Instagram.