Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Urban Nightscapes by Sergio Garcia Rill

What if one could see the Milky Way behind a big city skyline? What if the lights of the city didn’t interfere with the view of the starry night sky? That was the thought astro-landscape photographer Sergio Garcia Rill had when he decided to create his latest time lapse video, “Urban Nightscapes Texas.”

Sergio had been shooting astro-nightscapes for a few years, and because of light pollution he had to travel hours from the city to be able to see and photograph the night sky. “But I wanted to make a combination of what it might be to see the night sky from within the city and my Urban Nightscapes series was born,” Rill wrote in his blog.

Sergio makes it clear, the images and video he’s produced are mockup views. “The stars in the video have been added through digital manipulation and the sky doesn’t look that way inside the city due to the light pollution.” I did my best effort to try to simulate the sky as it would have looked without light pollution…I’m aware that these kind of shots are (at least at the moment) impossible to do in camera.”

Rill admits that the process was not simple or quick, but at the moment he feels that going into the technical details on how he did it will only change the focus from the actual video to the process of achieving the video. He does reveal that he used Nikon D600 and D750 cameras for both the foregrounds and backgrounds, and various lenses including, Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8, Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8, Nikon 35mm f/1.8, Bower 14mm f/2.8 and Bower 24mm f/1.4. Sergio used Lightroom, Photoshop and LRTimeLapse for doing his processing.

Challenges: “Although the biggest challenge was the processing of the images, finding the right locations that could represent each city and a good angle for aligning the night sky was the second most challenging and time consuming task,” reports Sergio. The images for the city foregrounds were taken around Houston, Dallas, Austin and San Antonio Texas. The skies were taken at various locations in the United States (but mostly Texas).

Satisfaction: “I guess the most satisfaction I get is when I get asked what camera I used, or where did I go to shoot —because people believe there might be a place where the sky looks like this inside the city or that I have a special camera that would allow me to take these shots. While I'm not trying to fool anyone (and I do try to clarify that in the video description), those questions make me realize I made a good job and the resulting video looks ‘real’.”

Sergio Garcia Rill currently lives in Houston, Texas. Sergio is planning on doing a series of videos like this for other mayor cities, based on his availability to travel to new cities. Currently, his sights are set on his hometown of Mexico City.  More of Sergio's photography can be seen at  his website.


  1. You might find this photo interesting:
    It is the Milky Way photographer over Los Angeles. Obviously, heavy post-processing was needed to draw out the stars, and the technique is described in the caption.

    1. That is a pretty amazing shot! Even though it is from high above LA (from Mt. Wilson), it still is OVER Los Angeles. Thanks for sharing.