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Finding the Stars on Matariki: My Journey into Astrophotography

Updated: Jul 11

From a young age, I've always been fascinated by the night sky and astrophotography. The immensity of the Milky Way and the countless galaxies beyond our own have always captivated my imagination. Working for dairy farmers over the years, bringing the cows in under the starlit sky was a nightly routine that never ceased to amaze me.

Photo By Tanya Salter Photography Astrophotography Milkyway New Zealand

About a year ago, I decided to try my hand at astrophotography on a whim. Moving to Franz Josef Glacier provided the perfect backdrop for my new passion, and a friend helped me fine-tune my camera settings. This guidance was invaluable and set the stage for my journey into capturing the cosmos.

Recently, I had an incredible opportunity to attend an astrophotography workshop with Rachel Roberts, a renowned photographer from the West Coast of New Zealand. The workshop was conveniently scheduled over the Matariki weekend, a significant time in the Maori calendar that celebrates the Matariki star cluster.

My enthusiasm for improving my astrophotography skills grew even more after capturing the aurora in May 2024. Alongside my wedding photography work, I felt a strong desire to excel in this new field. The workshop was a pivotal moment in this journey.

Meeting other passionate photographers, including Lydia and Stewart Nimmo, was inspiring. We began with a meet-and-greet session to get acquainted and discuss our camera settings. By 6 PM, we headed out to Kapitea Reservoir, where Rachel personally guided each of us through our settings. With her expert advice, we started taking photos as the Milky Way began to rise in the sky.

By 8:30 PM, the Milky Way was high above, and we wrapped up our shooting session. We returned to Riverstone House for a debriefing, sharing our experiences and learning from each other's techniques. The following day, we spent about four hours at Rachel's place for an intensive editing workshop, honing our skills in post-processing astrophotography images.

I'm eager to put my new skills to the test in upcoming night shoots. This journey into the stars has not only enriched my photography portfolio but also deepened my appreciation for the celestial wonders that grace our night skies.

Stay tuned for more nightscapes!

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