A clear night sky has always appealed to Loscar Numael. No smog and no light pollution — conditions you will only find outside in nature. When Numael points his ZEISS lenses at the sky — toward the Milky Way above California, for example, or the Northern Lights — he loses himself in another world. With fascinating photographic results.
Around four years ago, Loscar Numael was gripped: during a trip to Oregon (USA) he experimented for the first time with taking landscape images at night. He liked the results so much that night photography has been a fixed element in his photographic adventures ever since. During these trips he always takes five ZEISS lenses with him. He entered the “world of ZEISS” around five years go. He used his first ZEISS optic — a head loupe needed for his studies. From there it was just a small step to the Distagon T* 2,8/21, whose precision thrilled him so much that he gradually came to augment his photo gear exclusively with ZEISS lenses: the Distagon T* 2/35, the Makro-Planar T* 2/50, the Makro-Planar T* 2/100 and finally the Distagon T* 2,8/15.
During a trip during the fall of 2013 to Yukon territory, in Northwest Canada bordering Alaska, Numael was able to take stunning night images with the Distagon T* 2,8/15. The last leg of his tour took him to Tombstone Territorial Park, which he reached by helicopter as the region is difficult to reach by land. On arriving he first had to wait for the right weather conditions that would let him take pictures of the polar lights, or ‘Northern Lights’ (aurora borealis). These are created when electronically-charged particles from the solar wind collide with the upper latitudes of the Earth’s atmosphere. Due to the Earth’s magnetic field, which leads the solar wind to the Earth’s poles, the Northern and Southern Lights travel close to the polar regions with high frequency and intensity. On the fourth day of his visit, the weather was good and Numael began with his preparations: investigating the terrain, trying out different perspectives and setting up his equipment. Finally, at 2 am, the surprise:
“The sky began to light up green – two hours long. The Northern Lights were very active that night. It felt like you could see more with the camera than with the naked eye. Therefore, it was extremely important for me that I could rely on the Distagon T* 2,8/15 in two ways: first, once the focus was set it stayed exactly in the same place the entire night. And secondly chromatic aberrations, which are common during such night images, are almost absent with this ZEISS lens.”
In early 2013, Numael took a second “journey into the night” into the untouched nature of California. Before leaving, he had selected promising locations along Mono Lake and in Death Valley. During the trip Numael constantly kept track of the weather reports so he could be at the right place at the right time. With a smartphone app, he also determined when and where the Milky Way would be visible in the sky and then waited as long as was necessary until the galaxy appeared exactly in the motif where he wanted to have it — just as he had done with the calc-tuff formations and the Joshua palm lilies.
„This picture was taken during a particularly clear night in Death Valley National Park. Just before it got dark, I planned how I wanted to compose the image and then set up the equipment: I covered stray lights, for example the status LEDs from the camera, with black tape. Whether it was the rising moon or light pollution from Las Vegas shining in the background, I can’t say for sure. This picture is composed of four separate images: one of the sky and three of the Joshua palm lilies at different distances. With this technique and by using the Distagon T* 2,8/15, I achieved an excellent depth of field. Already with an open aperture, this lens has an extremely large depth of field and is very well suited for night images.”
About Loscar Numael
Born in Puerto Rico, Loscar Numael today lives in Atlanta, where he works in healthcare. Landscape images have fascinated him ever since he began to photograph seriously about seven years ago. Several times a year he goes on photographic tours into nature. At the top of his wish list are regions with a clear sky in which the beauty of the night sky can be interpreted in a special way. His upcoming photographic adventures will be taking him, among other places, to the highlands of Bolivia, Patagonia and his native Puerto Rico.
Tags: Distagon T* 2.8/15, Distagon T* 2.8/21, Distagon T* 2/35, Loscar Numael, Makro-Planar T* 2/100, Makro-Planar T* 2/50, Milky Way, Night photography, Northern lights, slr, Star photography, zeiss, ZEISS lenses