I recently added a new collection of star-studded (literally) images to my portfolio, captured during a workshop in Maine’s Arcadia National Park. The workshop focused on night photography, in particular the Milky Way. Did you know the Milky Way has a season? Here in the Northern Hemisphere its brilliant core, containing some 84 million stars, drops below the horizon in November and doesn’t appear again until next spring. Of course the workshop last June was orchestrated for peak viewing – and photographing – the glowing heart of our galaxy in all its splendor.

I’m not an especially accomplished night photographer but, with expert assistance from the group leaders, I came away with a collection of Milky Way images that I’m proud to add to my portfolio. The technique I was using to capture my shots required eleven minutes of in-camera processing per image – allowing me plenty of time to absorb the summer night air, the soothing rhythm of waves lapping the shore, and the sparkling infinity of stars overhead that we rarely see through the light pollution of civilization.

I added a new word to my vocabulary as well – airglow. Wikipedia defines airglow as “a faint emission of light by a planetary atmosphere.” Even in the dark of night, the sky may glow with softly luminous shades of green and magenta. With its sensitive electronics, combined with the long exposures needed for night photography, a camera is able to reveal more stars and more airglow than the naked human eye can see, making the results of night photography particularly satisfying. Those long exposures reveal the soft colors of airglow on the horizon and simultaneously transform the constant motion of the ocean and surf into an ethereal mist. The resulting images radiate with a magical light that shimmers between earth and sky.