Back in the early days of QUEST, when we were first piloting the Your Photos on QUEST segments, Steven Christenson was one of the first photographers to respond to our call for submissions, posting on the QUEST YPOQ Flickr page his set of photos from Mission Peak Preserve near Fremont, California.
When I was trolling for our first YPOQ photographer for the new season of QUEST TV, I went back to some of those early submissions and was immediately struck by Christenson’s set of vibrant, kinetic images, especially his night sky photographs and star circles. Not only are they totally unique and beautiful, there’s obviously a good story to be told in how he actually makes them.
Shooting photographs in very low light is a special skill, one that Christenson has honed to a fine art over the last few years. In fact, he’s gotten so good at it, he was honored as one of the winners of the International Astronomy Photographer of the Year, 2010 awards in the “People and Space” category. Here’s his winning photo, taken at Pfeiffer Beach in Big Sur, California. He shot it as people gathered on the beach during one of the few days each year when the setting sun shines directly through the archway of a large rock formation.
Indeed the process of “finding light in the darkness”, as Christenson puts it, is more involved than one might imagine. First off, you have to get to a place that has a good vantage point on the stars. In Christenson’s case, this usually involves driving and/ or hiking a good distance before he even sets down the tripod. Then, you have to deal with the notoriously foggy/ rainy/ cold Bay Area weather. He’s been battling with the weather at Pigeon Point Light House State Historic Park in Pescadero for years. But he’s managed to get some spectacular images there nonetheless.