This West Virginia musician is taking some rockin’ photos of space.
Warren Keller was a child of the space age: shuttle launches, moon landings, and groundbreaking images of the celestial bodies in our orbit. It was an interest that grew with him, like his love of photography. But as often happens, his interest in both waned as he grew older. Years later, he was given a star chart that reignited his love of space, and he quickly fell back into it.
Keller combined his shared interest in space and photography into what is known as astrophotography. It is an extensive process in which a digital tool such as a DSLR or monochrome camera is used to take a series of images that capture the light coming from different points in space. The multiple exposures are passed through filters of red, blue, and green. The photographer digitally stacks the exposures into trichromic images. With an artist’s eye, the photographer then adjusts color levels to create the bright, colorful image that you see. It’s not a quick or easy activity, but Keller enjoys the artistic process. “I can’t sit down and sketch,” he says, “but I can do astrophotography.”
Astrophotography is an older hobby, but it is slowly growing and becoming more diverse. “Anything you’re personally absorbed in, you feel like everyone is involved. When you back away, you realize it’s very niche,” Keller says. Online resources like Youtube are now making it more accessible to anyone who’s interested.
Keller didn’t start out in photography. His primary creative love is music. A child of talented musicians and performers, he has played music most of his life. It hasn’t always been easy—a period he spent writing and performing in Nashville never quite turned out the way he hoped, and music fell away for a while. A decade passed before he found inspiration in a group of young jazz players and started writing and recording as Spontaneous Groovin’ Combustion, his current musical passion. Don’t worry, though—he’s still taking those stunning photos of space when he’s not jamming out.