Centuries ago, travelers and explorers found their way across land and sea by the stars. Today, millions of people live in cities where the night sky is barely even visible above the bright city lights. Photographer Ben Canales, winner of this year’s National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest, has set out to remind us what we’re missing.
Image: Chaval Brasil/Flickr
Canales himself grew up in a dense urban area of New Jersey, and it wasn’t until he ventured out on an Australian backpacking trip in his mid-20s that he experienced the awe-inspiring beauty of the expansive night sky. In a recent interview, Ben Canales told TreeHugger about his passion for night photography and how his move from the light-polluted skies of Jersey to the Pacific Northwest has taught him that you don’t have travel to the other side of the world in order to witness the magnificence of our own galaxy. Canales, however, is more than willing to take on the role of delivering those out-of-this-world views to those that just can’t get away.
In Oregon, I’ve found the stars are still intact and the night sky is still beautifully viewable only an hour or more drive away from our largest city of Portland… I am honored to be able to take pictures of these experiences and share them with others that don’t have the opportunity to leave the thick light polluted nights of the cities.
Inspired to shoot for the stars? Take a look at Ben’s video describing his unique astro-photography techniques and then take a short drive to your nearest dark stretch of wide open space. And who knows – after a bit of practice, you may just get good enough to win next year’s contest (and that prize of a 2-week adventure on the National Geographic Explorer). You might want to keep an eye out for a shooting star for some extra insurance.