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A Matter of Perspective - Success As A Result of Patience and Perseverance

As photographers, there are times where we have to photograph the same thing several times before getting the shot we’ve always wanted. Sometimes, this takes days, months or years. Sometimes, it takes a decade. That’s what it took to get this shot.

I first visited San Luis Obispo in California over a decade ago with my girlfriend Kristin (now my wife). Her aunt and uncle lived in a house off Vineyard Drive in SLO and this lone tree sat atop a hill by their house. I photographed that tree every day of that trip and at least once during every trip back over the coming years. But I was never happy with the outcome. I photographed it at sunrise, sunset, on clear days and days with cloudy or overcast skies. Nothing made me think I had captured it the way it deserved to be captured.

Then, in April of 2015, I finally hit paydirt. I was on a trip with my brother to the area and we stayed at my wife’s grandparents house in Atascadero for a couple nights before heading up to Yosemite. That night, I looked up where the Milky Way would be and noticed the celestial center would be due south at around 4:00am. And as luck would have it, you can get a perfect view of that tree on Vineyard Drive looking south. So, my brother and I woke up at 3:30 in the morning, headed over and I finally got an image of this tree I had always dreamed of. I chose to make the tree as minimal a part of the image as possible because the Milky Way was so prominent in the sky. The tree is very old, and it was the perfect foreground element against a timeless view of the night sky.

Photographing the Milky Way is one of the most rewarding things I’ve learned to do in photography. It takes a lot of planning, a little bit of luck and a good amount of technical knowledge to pull off. If you’re interested in learning to photograph the night sky, I just recently released my brand new ebook titled Sunset & Beyond: A photographer’s guide to sunset, twilight and the night sky.

This was shot with my beloved Sony a7s and Sony 16-35 f/4 at 23mm. ISO 4000, 25 seconds, f/4.

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