KOZHIKODE: In the darkness of night, when all of us fall asleep, Navaneeth Unnikrishnan, a youngster hailing from Kallamala near Vadakara, ventures out to explore the mysterious night sky through astrophotography. Astrophotography is a specialised type of photography that entails recording images of astronomical objects and large areas of the night sky.
Among the five awesome photographs of meteors published by ‘EarthSky,’ a Europe-based website, there is a photograph of this BTech student of SDM Institute of Technology, Mangalore. His recent achievement includes the recognition he received from the ‘National Geographic’ magazine. They have selected one of his photographs to be published in their magazine. Navaneeth sees his camera as a powerful tool to capture the interesting aspects of life with a creative touch. He has captured Lyrid Meteor Showers, Camelopardalids Meteor Shower, the Milky Way, Pleiades(M45) also known as Seven Sisters, Core of The Orion Nebula, Trifid Nebula, Omega Centauri and many more.
A self-taught photographer, Navaneeth started capturing astrophotographs from last August while relaxing on his terrace at home. “I happened to see the Milky Way on the sky, which was visible even to the naked eye. Out of curiosity I clicked some snaps and the result was amazing. Till then I never thought that it was possible to capture the mysterious night sky with an ordinary camera,” says Navaneeth. The eagerness to capture astronomical objects keeps him awake. “In the beginning I had to face criticism, but gradually I succeeded in convincing people with my photographs.”
While admitting that astrophotography is a time-consuming work, he is passionate about imparting knowledge to people about astronomical objects. Navaneeth hopes his photographs will help both children and adults get a clear idea about the night sky. His uncle and artist Jagadeesh Palayad says his determination to face challenges makes him good at this rare hobby. “When I began photographing the night sky I had no idea about it. What I did was shoot the colourful Milky Way on and on.
Later, apps such as Stellarium, Google Sky Map and Star Chart helped me identify and learn more about the night sky location of the Nebulae, constellations, galaxies, clusters and many more. In his opinion all these apps will help a newbie to learn more about the stars and constellation. Apart from the equipment used, including a 75-300 mm Piggybacked on a Telescope with Tracking Mount, he believes all one needs is the willingness and patience to romance with the sky, to be good at astrophotography. He also started conducting workshops on the basics of astrophotography and post-processing methods.
Arun Sidharth, an admirer of the budding photographer, says it is his dedication to the work that gives him an incredible output.
According to him astrophotography is not something complicated but it takes a lifetime to master it. Recently he won a prize in a photography competition, ‘360°,’ at the Ragam Fest organised by NIT, Kozhikode.