I am fascinated by images that are made with very old light. The light is old because it was generated in places that are far away and many years were required for the light to reach us here, on Earth. In a very real sense, these images are a look back in time, at places and events as they were in the distant past. Often the objects in my astrophotographs are very big . . . so big that even rocketing along at the speed of light, decades would be necessary to journey across the distance shown in the frame of the photograph. While these “spacescapes” are unimaginably large, they are none-the-less familiar. The shapes and structures of the cosmic objects are similar to things we see everyday, when we look down at the cream swirling in our cup of coffee, or look up at the clouds in the sky.
In the last few years, the technology required to make astrophotographs has become more capable and more available. With my astrophotography I have been exploring the creative possibilities afforded by this new camera, filter, and software technology. The same sensibilities we have developed for terrestrial photography can now be applied to images of the dimly lit objects that populate the night sky. In my work I endeavor to capture the beauty and drama of the story that is told by this ancient light.
In the shadow of Jacks Peak
My studio sits among the Monterey Pines and live oaks at the base of the highest point in Monterey County, Jacks Peak. It's my favorite spot on the Peninsula, serene and sunny, with coastal fog blanketing us on summer nights, and the distant thunder of the surf reminding us that the ocean is nearby. From my studio I can point my telescope south toward the dark skies over Big Sur, or walk the trails up the mountain to photograph the wildlife and landscapes of the forest.
Gary Lopez is a nature photographer. His clients have included U.S. National Park Service, Enclyclopaedia Britannica, and others. In recent years, Gary has focused on astrophotography, exploring the creative boundaries allowed by the newest camera, filter, and software technology. Recently he was named a Top 100 Trending Astrophotographer by AstroBin, the largest astrophotography community in the world with more than 750,000 users from 220 countries.
Gary is also a film maker. He has written and produced more than 40 documentary films and series, including television programs for Jacques Cousteau and his son, Jean-Michel Cousteau. His programs have been broadcast nationally in the United States, distributed through out Europe and Asia, and have received many awards. In 2006, President George W. Bush cited one of Gary’s films, Voyage to Kure (Jean-Michel Cousteau Ocean Adventures, PBS), as his inspiration for establishing the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Marine National Monument, one of the largest protected areas in the world (Los Angeles Time, June 15, 2006).