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EveryDay Artist – Roy Nelson

Author: Libby - Printique by Adorama

Every month we like to sit down with a member and find out more about their artistry and photography. This month, we were struck with Roy Nelson’s astrophotography.
His images are out of this world and look amazing on our metal prints. Here’s our interview with Roy Nelson of RN Photography.
My name is Roy Nelson. I am 20 years old and live in the small mountainous area of Star Valley, Wyoming. Star Valley is where I was born and raised. In case you did not know, Star Valley is located south of The Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks nearing the Idaho border. My favorite pass time is photography, and soon I hope to make it a career.
Adorama pix 5I have been photographing for one and a half short years. I purchased my first DSLR when I was 19 as a birthday present and I have been hooked ever since. I am self taught, and have learned everything I know through trial and error. I have since moved away from the DSLR and I am now shooting with Sony mirrorless systems, primarily the first Sony a7 and Sony a6000. My progression has been quite rapid and I hope to continue in that for many more years to come!Adorama pix 1My night sky images have been the most challenging and difficult photographs to acquire, yet they have been the most rewarding. I am very lucky to live in a place that has such amazing night sky opportunities. The number one factor to my success is without a doubt my location and the dark skies I have access too. Most people today live in large cities and don’t get to view all the many stars, let alone photograph them! I’ve developed my own style of shooting and processing my images, and many people seem to like them. Often a single image of the Night Sky will take me anywhere from 8-10 hours to process and finish. I use a technique called stacking. Stacking helps me to reduce noise in my images and allow me to edit the images with more depth than a single exposure. Night time photography is so exciting simply because you don’t know exactly what you are going to get until you take the photo. It’s a surprise every time. All of my favorite images of the night sky have been taken within 30 miles of my home. Each location is special to me. I would love to travel sometime soon and take my night time photography to new heights!
Adorama pix 2I prepare for my night time shoots  in several different ways. First and foremost is location. Often I will scout during the day for unique places, and dark skies away from the town lights. I like to use an app on my phone called Sky Guide to see where in the sky certain celestial objects are and where they will be when the night falls. Objects such as the Galactic Core or Milky Way as many people call it. The next thing I do is a bit more challenging. I envision and picture in my head the photograph I want. Visualizing is very important, if you have an idea of what you are after you have a goal to achieve. Having a goal helps you stay focused and determined. The last thing is to go out there and shoot! I don’t get it correctly perfect every time. Often I will spend several minutes picking the right spot for the camera and the settings I need to achieve the best results. Many many failure shots are taken before the best one ever is. What is in my bag? Well for my primary camera I use the first model Sony a7 and sometimes the Sony a6000. As far as lenses go I use a variety, but my favorite lenses are the Samyang 24mm f1.4, the Samyang 85mm f1.4, The Minolta Rokkor MD 50mm f1.4 Manual film lens and a few others. I use all manual focus lenses because in reality you can’t autofocus in the dark! My favorite ability is to mount old Minolta film lenses on my Sony cameras. It’s very fun and optically they are amazing. Also CHEAP! Being only 20 years old I don’t have thousands to spend, so I take a budget approach to my photography and these manual focus lenses help me to do that. I also have a sturdy Carbon Fiber tripod, hand warmers, extra batteries, a remote shutter and also my MP3 player and some headphones.
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For anyone who wishes to start astrophotography let me just say you can achieve great results with what you have! I started with a Canon t2i and the kit lens. The results you can achieve with even the basic kit lens can be awe inspiring and very satisfying. For this type of photography a basic knowledge of shooting in manual mode is essential. If you know how you will be all set! Also shoot in RAW. You need to have access to all the data you camera records so you can get the best out of your images. Remember we are dealing with very faint pinpoints of light. Above all I would say experiment. Be prepared to fail and to work very very hard. You will learn more from failing and trying  again than any tutorial online will teach you. With the right effort and determination you can achieve amazing results, even with modest equipment.
Adorama pix 4To see more of Roy’s out of this world photography, you can check out his website at RN Photography or his Instagram @rnelson_photography.