Lagoon and Trifid nebulae

Lagoon and Trifid nebulae shine brightly in the constellation Sagittarius. 

by Isabella O’Herron

Herald Intern

The night sky in Lake County is something to behold, and local photographer David Jones is taking advantage of the starry view. Jones is a self-taught photographer who was drawn to the Colorado scenery — something he wanted to capture and share with friends. 

Jones started photography as a hobby in college and continued to pursue it over time. He spent years capturing nature and landscapes around Colorado in the daylight hours before deciding to branch out into astral photography.

Jones was attracted to taking photographs of the night sky because of the challenge. The photos he takes now are mostly located around his own home in Twin Lakes — at night.

“There are nice clear skies in Colorado,” Jones said. But sometimes, Jones travels to dark-sky areas in other regions to capture the stars. He has taken photos in New Mexico, the San Luis Valley, the Antero Reservoir, and Taylor Park Reservoir. 

The equipment Jones uses in his astral photography is as follows: a Nikon D850 with a 300mm lens and a Nikon Z7 with a 500mm lens. In order to get a clear picture of  celestial bodies, Jones must take a large amount of photos and later edit them. Capturing these images can take up to an hour and “many of the images have to be thrown out because of jets, meteors and other interferences,” Jones explained. 

In order to process the images, Jones must first stack all of the exposures together and then average them to get a clear image. This way, the image is clearer and shows more of the skyscape in question. Once the images are averaged, Jones uses photo stretching to enhance the low-light area of the photo. Lastly, he utilizes color correction so that stars are easier to see. “I usually spends an entire day editing,” Jones said.

Jones’s favorite celestial body to photograph is the Andromeda galaxy, the nearest major galaxy to the Milky Way. “The world has really opened up,” Jones said. “The progress made in photography technology allows for space to be captured like it never could have been on film.”

Jones shares his photos with friends and family and wishes to continue taking photos for himself, as a hobby. He creates astral photography images to remind people that there is more out in space than we could ever imagine. “The night sky is a hidden world of great beauty,” Jones said.

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