Monday Motivation is about introducing people that we at MilkyWayPhotographers.com find inspiring. Richard Tatti / Nightscape Images is one. His YouTube channel is nearing 50 videos – each one focusing on a different subject or an aspect of nightscape photography. His excellent photography, the quality of his videos, and his easy to follow presentation make his videos a must see.
Richard is located in Bendigo, Victoria, Australia, about 150 km northwest of Melbourne, which puts him in a rural region with historical goldmines, farmland, ranches, and timberland. Bendingo has a relatively dry, temperate climate with over 100 clear days annually. Being so far away from Melbourne also means Richard has good access to Bortle Class 2 dark skies with little light pollution. It’s an ideal place for Milky Way photography.
Richard’s website, https://www.nightscapeimages.com.au/, showcases many of his photos. Richard has images of old farm equipment, railway trestles, abandoned buildings, and decrepit automobiles. All his photographs are top-notch, so it’s worth checking them out.
Single Shot Milky Way Portraits
My favorite video of Richard’s demonstrates how to take single shot Milky Way portraits. Richard shows us how to make portraits from just a few people to larger groups. And even how to create silhouettes.
Richard starts this video showing how he photographs two fellow astrophotographers in front of the night sky, using the glow of their camera’s LCD screen to illuminate the photographer’s faces. He points out the trick for this shot is to have both photographers in the same plane of focus, and then have them anchor themselves by holding on to their camera and tripod. It’s an excellent way to photograph your friends when out doing Milky Way photography.
Next up, he shows how to shoot larger groups. He combines off-camera flash to light the people along with a prolonged exposure to capture the Milky Way. Even though he uses standard studio lighting techniques, his skill shows. He knows how to light people in the environment. Richard points out that for this type of portrait, you always set the camera exposure for the background or Milky Way, and then adjust the lights for the foreground subjects.
Silhouettes are up next. Even though there is no light on the person in the photo, it’s a super simple way to make a portrait. And if you’re not convinced a silhouette can be a portrait, outlines were a standard form of portraiture a couple of hundred years ago. A simple profile outline of a person is often enough for them to be identifiable. Richard points out that silhouettes are a great way to do self-portraits. He then discusses how he uses a wireless flash on a light stand for backlighting his silhouettes.
Using a Lantern as a Prop
Richard closes this video by showing how he shot a portrait of two people holding a vintage lantern with the stars behind them. It’s an excellent shot, and setting it up was not much different than the other photos he already discussed. The trick for this photo was he used what he called “Christmas Fairy Lights” to light the couple. Just a single little LED light! He set it behind the vintage lantern to emulate a lit lamp.
Richard is a Nikon shooter, usually with a D750, but he’s been using the new mirrorless Nikon Z6 lately. His gear list shows he’s a fan of prime lenses. Richard uses the Nikon 20mm f/1.8 lens for several of the shots in his Milky Way portrait video. He made many of the exposures with that lens wide open, 10 seconds, at ISO 4000.
Richard often uses the F&V Z96 LED light panel. The Z96 has, not surprisingly 96 LEDs, but they are well color balanced with a 95 CRI, and bright, putting out 800 lx Illuminance. It is an expensive light compared to a lot of other LED panels, but it’s well built and will most certainly last much longer than many less expensive LED panels.
For his regular nightscape shots, Richard often composites something like seven or eight exposures for the foreground and a single one for the night sky. His foreground is often a stacked shot at around ISO 500, and the sky is sometimes a single shot at 3200 ISO or so. In addition to compositing foregrounds, he often light paints near objects. He’s got so many videos showing his technics for light painting; it’s difficult to single one out to feature here.
OK, I’ve picked out one of his videos where he light paints an abandoned building – the Grand Duke Gold Mine. He walks us round in the daytime to show us how the site looks. All that’s left of the mine is a large stone archway. Then Richard sets up his camera to align the top of the arch with the Milky Way. He breaks down the entire location and tells us exactly how he took the excellent shot shown in the video below. I love videos like this as it presents everything one needs to consider before photographing a Milky Way nightscape.
Aligning in the Southern Hemisphere
For those in the southern hemisphere, Richard has a video about setting up a star tracker. They don’t have a single star to align the tracker with like is available in the northern hemisphere. Richard runs through his super simple procedure for setting up his tracker. He doesn’t do a proper polar alignment, but his results speak for themselves.
In the Beginning
In one of Richard’s first videos, he walks through his Milky Way photography journey. He takes us through time to show us some of his early star trail photos, made in the 1970s. He even shows us his Mum’s Brownie camera, his first Milky Way camera! It worth a watch as Richard discusses many of his photographs and even some of the techniques he employed to make those photos. It’s a journey that many of us Milky Way Photographers have been down!
Nightscape Images Workshops
Richard offers nightscape photography workshops in Australia. He provides both weekend and mid-week workshops. The bad news is he’s already sold out for 2019! It’s not surprising with the quality of his works and his teaching style. You can keep up with his workshop schedule here.
Richard Tatti / Nightscape Images Links:
Richard Tatti / Nightscape Images
I hope you found Richard Tatti / Nightscape Images as motivating as I have. Make sure you “Like and Subscribe” to his YouTube channel to keep up with his latest work.
More Monday Motivation
If you have any suggestions for a Monday Motivation, someone that you think is so inspirational you want everyone else to know about them, drop us a line or leave us a comment below. We’ll check them, and maybe we’ll include them!
In the meantime, check out last week’s Monday Motivation – Royce Bair, Clarence Spencer, and Eric Benedetti.