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 strive to capture the beauty and drama of the stories that are 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 fine art astrophotographer. In recent years he has focused on exploring the creative opportunities made possible by the newest camera, filter, and software technology. His astrophotography has received recognition in international fine art photography competitions, including First Place in the 2020 and the 2021 International Photography Awards (Nature/Astrophotography category). He serves as an Ambassador for both William Optics, premium telescopes, and for AstroBin, the #1 astrophotography website.
Gary is also a film maker, entrepreneur, and scientist. He has 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 for excellence. In 2006, U.S. President George W. Bush cited one of Gary’s films, Voyage to Kure (Jean-Michel Cousteau Ocean Adventure, PBS), as his inspiration for establishing the Northwestern Hawaiian Island Marine National Monument, one of the largest protected areas in the world (Los Angles Time, June 15, 2006). Gary’s media company, Archipelago, was acquired by Harcourt Brace in 1993. Dr. Lopez received his Ph.D. in Marine Biology from Scripps Institution of Oceanography in 1981.