|Ruins of the medieval fortification called "Steinscloss" in Styria, Austria ~ © Herbert Raab|
Finding TWAN: Herbert has been interested in astronomy since he was a little boy. After seeing a presentation by the German TWAN photographer, Stefan Seip in 2009, he realized that digital imaging technology has enabled us to capture that beauty, and he decided to try to take TWAN style images himself. TWAN ("The World At Night") is a pool of photographers from around the world that tries to capture the beauty of the night sky over different landscapes. These images are displayed on the TWAN web site. "Personal contacts with some of the TWAN photographers (including the founder of TWAN, Babak Tafreshi), have inspired me a lot," says Herbert.
In the above image Herbert spent much of the night in the ruins of this medieval fortification, with bats as his only companions. It was an intense experience, still etched in his memory! A stack of 40 individual frames, each of 60 seconds exposure time (using a Canon EOS 550D, Sigma 10mm fisheye, f/3.5, ISO 800), resulting in a total exposure of 40 minutes. The ruins and the landscape were illuminated by the first quarter moon.
|"Harvest Time" is a stack 38 individual frames, each of 60 seconds exposure time ~ © Herbert Raab|
|"Twilight" is a panoramic image composed of three single exposures of 20 seconds each ~ © Herbert Raab|
|"River of Stars" over an alpine lake in Grebenzen-Zirbitzkogel (Styria, Austria) ~ © Herbert Raab|
Technique and Tools: "Interestingly, many people think that night images require heavy image processing. Actually, that is not the case. In most cases, some tweaks during the RAW-conversion is all I do --with color balance and noise reduction being the most important," says Raab. He uses Adobe Camera Raw as his main post processing software, with ImageStacker for stacking star trail images, and PTGui for blending panoramas. Other than his Canon EOS 550D (A.K.A. the Rebel T2i in the USA, and the EOS Kiss X4 in Japan), he finds his Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 wide angle lens, with the Cokin P830 diffuser in front, as his most valuable pieces of equipment.
Balancing life and photography: Herbert considers being at the right place at the right time as his biggest challenge in doing TWAN photography. "Considering the facts that I have a full daytime job, a family with three small kids, and that the weather here in central Europe is not always very cooperative, every night I can spend under the stars is a small miracle by itself," reports Herbert.
TWAN photography giving balance to life: He has observed that watching the stars slowly move across the sky is a counterpart to the busy, fast-paced world around us. Herbert sometimes philosophies about the photons that have crossed the universe for hundreds or thousands of years, that are now captured by his camera. "Every time I look at those photos that I took in such a night, the calmness returns," he says.
More of Herbert Raab's photography can be found on his Flickr Photostream.