Moon Category Winner

I remember how we looked forward to the big celebrations that were being planned for October 2020. How could we ever have imagined that our lives were about to change drastically and due to something as strange as a virus. Organisers bounced back after total lock down and proceeded with preparations for an incredible online event.

To keep me motivated and inspired during a time of isolation, I spent many evenings taking images of the Moon. When the SAAO launched the astrophotography competition, I had many Moon images to choose from.

In this shot the Moon seemed to be floating above the clouds,  in contrast with the heaviness of heart that I oftened experienced during this period. Entering the competition was more about being part of the special celebrations and making a positive contribution. I parted with my Moon and enjoyed the celebrations to the full.

I read the email over and over, just to be sure. Confirmation came when I saw the following post by the South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO) on social media:

The year 2020 was a big milestone for the South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO), marking 200 years of its existence as an astronomical observatory.This landmark allows us to commemorate not only our scientific accomplishments, but also to celebrate our country’s rich cultural heritage as a whole.Since this is a celebration, the SAAO held an Astrophotography Competition in partnership with Scifest Africa. The winning images will be exhibited at the SAAO Visitor Center, which is currently under construction in Cape Town.

Congratulations to our winner Carol Botha for the astonishing work submitted for the Astrophotography Competition 2020 under the Moon category.
Goodness me – I was a winner!…/saao-200-astrophotography…/

Landscape AstroPhotography by Mike Shaw

My own copy has arrived in South Africa. As with all my books, it is lying on my table and no-one is allowed to touch except me. One should not attack a new book. The covers should be opened gently and pages turned slowly one by one. A book needs to adjust to its surroundings and get used to its new owner.

In due course when this process has run its course, I will tell you more about this wonderful publication….

My first impression was the weight of the book. A great deal of information lay waiting behind the impressive front cover. For a day or two I pondered over the enormous task the author had undertaken. Somehow I just knew that I had laid my hands on a special publication.

The moment of thruth. Hands washed, I turned the cover and paged gently. Goals, history, learning curve, creative vision, correct subject lighting, technical proficiency, practicing with your equipment, BASIC ASTRONOMY, sunrise/sunsets, solar cycle sunspot progression, timing of landscape photography, analemmas. Beautiful layout of stunning images and the coolest diagrams with the turn of every page. I realised that I had only reached page 100 and there were 340 more!
Will I ever become the professional landscape astro-photographer of the calibre of Mike Shaw? Most probably not, but I will have a better understanding of what I am actually doing when I point my camera at the night sky. Most important, I will have a better appreciation of the art of the professional landscape astro-photographer.
What I hold dear is how Mike Shaw always shares his expert experiences without an attitude of: do as I say. In this book he lays emphasis on reflecting your personal creative vision.
I would say Landscape AstroPhotography is going to be more important to me in the long run than buying extra expensive equipment. It will provide a solid foundation to build apon in order to reflect my own personal vision.