Take A Look Beyond Our World

Guest post by Justin McKee

I took this photograph explicitly for this post, but when I went out to shoot I didn’t know what I was looking for or what I was going to write about.

It’s good to do that every now and then. I feel like having a post or two set aside for impromptu experiences is good for the soul.

The photo above was taken during one bitterly cold night. I ventured out because it was the first clear night sky in a long time and I felt the need to take advantage of that.

The moon was nearly full, so that affected how many stars I could capture, but it made for some stunning foreground lighting. As you can see, the plants and road are clearly lit by not only the moon’s glow, but my car’s tail lights as well.

I took this photograph with my Canon 5D Mark iii and a 16-35mm f2.8 lens. It is a composite photograph, which means I took more than one photograph at different settings and in Photoshop CS6 I blended them together to create an even exposure.

I basically took the sky from one photograph and the landscape from another so the image can look more like how my eyes saw the scene.

This shot was taken out by Haymarsh lakes in Mecosta County. I took it out there because there’s far less light pollution from neighboring cities like Big Rapids or Evart. It’s in the middle of nowhere, which is perfect for astrophotography.

If you want to see where the darkest parts of the sky are across the state (or world), check out this link — a preview of how that website appears can be seen in the second photo attached to this post.

Before I took this photograph, I was shooting with my Canon 70-200mm f2.8 lens and I had zoomed in on the Orion Nebula, otherwise known as Messier 42.

At 200mm, some of the details of the nebula can be seen when you zoom into the photograph at a 100 percent crop in Photoshop (or Adobe Camera Raw, because I shoot in raw like the cool kids).

The Orion Nebula is one of the brightest nebulae in the night sky, and because of that it is visible to the naked eye and easily distinguishable to a telephoto lens — even if it’s only 200mm.

So, is there a point to this post other than the short stream of consciousness that you just read?

Well, I think the main point here is to forget all the technical stuff for one night.

Just let it go.

Just get out and shoot.

I always encourage that above all, because once you get rid of all the methodology and just strive to make a photo that looks good, that’s when the passion for the art takes over and you can just enjoy doing what you do.

There’s no pressure. There’s no frustration.

There’s just fun.

That’s what the photograph for this post is all about. I didn’t know what I was going to shoot that night, but once I discovered it I was able to just enjoy what I’d found.


Justin McKee is a small-town photographer with big ideas living in Michigan. In addition to portraits, wedding photography and video, he also enjoys wildlife photography. He always seeks to learn more about his craft.

About Karin

Journalist, singer, reader, movie fanatic, photography buff, GVSU alum, wanna-be-Brit, Crohn’s fighter, Coca-Cola addict, animal lover, not a kid person, hater of winter, Michigander

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