I love staring at a bright starry night sky in wonder of the universe. On a good clear night, there are approximately 5,000 stars viewable to the naked eye. Our sun and its solar system are just one of 100 billion stars estimated to be part of the Milky Way, and that is just our galaxy. Creating images like this one reminds me of just how small we are in the vastness of the universe.

My aim as a landscape photographer is to unravel the elements of nature and to portray them in such a way that it helps my audience connect to the natural world and discover new wonders. Like in all the arts, a landscape photograph is used to demonstrate an individual’s profound impression of the subject matter. When creating astrophotography VAST images, I aim to capture as much light and detail as possible in order to convey this profound impression. To me, it is this level of detail that is critical to capturing vibrant and amazing images of our Milky Way and the stars beyond.

When planning this image, I found myself searching for a point of interest I could place in the foreground that would anchor my astronomical image and provide context for the vastness and scope of the Milky Way. I also wanted to contrast the quick movement of terrestrial elements with the very slow movement of celestial bodies. This quest took me on a dark, mostly clear spring night to the Cascade de la Vis in Saint-Laurent-le-Minier in the Gard department of France.

In order to illustrate the gushing water, I combined long exposures with light painting. I then combined this with star stacking of the night sky to record the detail and magnitude of stars, seemingly freezing them in time. The combination of these effects gives a sense of contrast between the fast rushing waterfall below and the seemingly slow movement of the earth and stars above. Creating a vertical panorama with these techniques, something I like to use often in my astrophotography projects, not only shows the gorgeous night sky but also highlights the foreground elements, tying together the heavens and the Earth.

This image won a Bronze Award in the 2020 Epson International Pano Awards.