Through the ages, humans have navigated by, devised stories from, and assigned supernatural significance to visible features of the night sky. In the absence of light pollution, night skies were highly figured with bright stars and planets, capturing the imaginations and reverence of our ancestors.
The eye-brain combination is a powerful human sense, but it has its limitations. The human eye performs poorly in low-light environments. As a result, modern humans ‘light the night’ to compensate, decreasing the amount of detail visible in the night sky. The electronic and digital age has heralded new technologies to capture and study that which our eyes cannot clearly see. The tools needed for digital camera astrophotography have become increasingly available to photography enthusiasts.
The principal is simple: find a dark sky unspoiled by light pollution, open the aperture on the lens through which light is gathered and captured on a digital sensor, and expose for the time needed to make an image. Astrophotography is a long-exposure art form, where images are captured over multiple seconds to several minutes. Multiple exposures are often ‘stacked’ to form a single, densely detailed image.
In this exhibition, four local artists display their astrophotography skills with breathtaking images of the Milky Way and the movement of stars.
James Daniels is an avid outdoorsman and lifelong resident of the Big Bend area who has pursued photography for more than 20 years. Kyle P. Miller is a scientist at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission who uses fine art photography to capture the wilds of Florida. Michael Riffle is also a scientist and his analytical mindset draws him to the complex processes of astrophotography. Kathryn Stivers is an architect trained in a variety of fine art techniques, though photography remains her first love and life-long passion.
These artists use phone apps, moon and star charts, and cloud forecasts to determine the best timing for their nocturnal adventures. The results are carefully planned and composed images that harken back to the dawn of human history when our ancestors enjoyed dark, starry skies.
This exhibition will be on view at the Artport Gallery through August 23. Please wear a mask and practice social distancing when visiting the gallery. To see a digital version of this exhibit, visit COCA’s Online Gallery at cocaonlinegallery.zenfolio.com.
This is one of many rotating exhibitions curated by the Council on Culture & Arts on behalf of the City of Tallahassee as part of the Art in Public Places program. The Artport Gallery itself is located in the Tallahassee International Airport, 3300 Capital Circle SW, and is open daily from 8:00 am until 11:30 pm. The first 30 minutes of parking is free for both the short-term parking lot.