Milky Way

How Photography Seduced Me.

I bought my first "serious" camera, the Nikon D5100, for my wife as a christmas present a little over 4 years ago. After a couple months of use the honeymoon period ended and it found its way to a closet snuggled up in the Nikon camera bag I bought with it. I honestly had personally released the shutter 50 times at a maximum. I had my iPhone and really had been content with it for my photography needs. With the birth of my daughter a little over a year and half ago this all changed and the Nikon found its way into my hands. I loved shooting my daughter with the Nikon. I liked looking into a viewfinder to frame the shot and enjoyed trying to get creative with the depth of field. Looking back, I really had no idea the blackhole I was approaching. Photography was seducing me and I was falling head over heels.

Wifey on honeymoon waiting on sunrise at Haleakalā National Park, Maui, Hawaii
Nikon D5100 DSLR Camera with 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 Auto Focus-S Nikkor Zoom Lens

For as long as I can remember, I have been intrigued by the night sky. Soon after discovering my new passion, I began searching for other targets and naturally gravitated to nightscape and astrophotography. I really enjoyed and continue to read Ian Norman's site on shooting the night sky called Lonely Spec. Once I realized it was possible to capture the Milky Way without some sort of tracking mount I was hooked. However, having just upgraded my knowledge from "knowing absolutely nothing" about photography to "beginning to realize just how much you don't know" about photography, I had come to the quick conclusion that I needed a fast prime lens. I read Ian's article on the Best Nikon Lens for Shooting the Milky Way and boom purchased a Rokinon 24mm f/1.4 ED AS UMC ($599 on Amazon). I love this lens and have shot some of my best Milky Way shots with this lens.

Andromeda & Milky Way at Stone Mountain State Park, Roaring Gap, North Carolina
Nikon D5100, Rokinon 24mm, 20s, f2.5, ISO 1600

There was only one problem: it's a manual focus lens. For astrophotography and nightscape shots this is perfect as you are on a tripod and trying to find infinity focus. For fast moving capture the moment shots with a toddler, this was horrible. I'm sure there are photographers that can do this, but at my current skill level, yeah no, impossible. So this lead me to pursuing another lens purchase and the realization, I was traveling down a path with each purchase. Every time I spent money I was investing in a brand system and making it more difficult to turn back. So I came to the decision with a recommendation from my brother Rob Rhyne to purchase the inexpensive but incredibly sharp and fast Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G ($197 on Amazon). This lens is perfect for working with a prime lens, learning to "zoom with your feet," and experimenting with depth of field. Also, at right under $200 it was not a significant investment into the Nikon DX system. It was the perfect way to dip my toe into the water and work on my craft.

Lillian Ready for a Ride in the Radio Flyer.
Nikon D5100, 35mm, 1/1000s, f/2.0, ISO 400

What I've learned from all of this is that photography is an amazing art form. There's tons to learn around multiple facets of the topic, whether framing, light, post processing, gear, and on and on. It's also a highly rewarding art form. Whether it's capturing memories or telling a story by stopping a fraction of a second in time, a photograph can convey the meaning and beauty of life. It's has me in its grips and I pray I don't let go for a long time. On to the next shot.