Milky Way, Arizona
Shoot for the Stars
Put our world squarely in the middle of the universe that we can see with our naked eyes (it’s out there every night). Include the landscape—and look for opportunities to capture something unique. Arizona Sky Village in Portal, Arizona, is a dark-sky housing development. Every house has a telescope built in, and one of the streets really is named Milky Way, which I wanted to show. A little pop of flash did the trick.
Something wonderful has happened in photography: Ordinary people can now photograph the universe.
Standing beneath the Milky Way has always been a beautiful sight, if you were lucky enough to find dark skies on a dark night. But the revelation of recent advances in digital photography is that the dim ribbon of silvery light we see with our naked eyes is actually a glorious, stupendous galaxy.
For me the revelation came the first time I took a photograph of that galaxy and realized that just because the visible universe is so far away didn’t mean I needed a big telescope to photograph it. No, what I needed was a wide-angle lens because it is so huge—and we live in the middle of it.
When I show young people my first published picture of the Milky Way I like to point out that this is their home. Earth lies about a third of the way out on one of those vast spiral arms of stars and dust clouds. Being able to take a snapshot of that universe is something new under the sun. And it’s great fun too.
Jim Richardson has been a National Geographic photographer for over three decades, documenting landscapes and cultures around the world. You can see more of Richardson's work on his website and follow him on Instagram.