A Visual Review: Ian Norman

Ian Norman is a photographer who is passionate about capturing the milky way through the lens of his camera. He has dedicated a large portion of his photography career to capture astrophotography and the results have been incredible. Norman co-founded the website, thelonleyspeck.com, which provides insight into the world of astrophotography and shows some of the techniques he uses to capture our home galaxy. Based on what he has outlined on his website, astrophotography takes an incredible amount of patience and dedication to get the perfect shot, that, and really, really dark skies. Getting to each shooting location usually takes hours of traveling out into areas with little to no light population and even when the perfect spot is found, it is very dependent on weather conditions. A cloudy or hazy sky can ruin a shooting opportunity which took hours of travel and waiting for the starts to be aligned. Overcoming the adverse variables that are involved with this style of photography makes me appreciate the work that Norman does.

“The Heavens Above Her” by Ian Norman shows his wife underneath a stunning view of the Milky Way Galaxy.

When one looks at Norman’s work, they notice that his pictures not only show an incredible background of stars but also the foreground is also very interesting as well. This style of showing an interesting foreground paired with a background that shows the furthest stars in our galaxy and the results are stunning.

On a recent lonelyspeck.com astrophotography workshop in Alabama Hills, California, my students were a young couple, Samantha Goli and Sammy Golzari. Sammy chose the night of the workshop to propose to Samantha under the Mobius Arch and the brilliant light of the Milky Way.
Norman captured this photo of one of his students proposing to his fiance during a workshop for his website. This is a great example on how the picture is made not only by the amazing background but also the story the foreground tells.

Ian Norman’s career is still definitely on the rise as his work continues to rise in popularity around the internet. His work was just also featured on National Geographic for his recent work with using astrophotography in time-lapses and hyper-lapses (moving time-lapses). His video that was showcased was about why he is passionate about capturing the stars and how when you take pictures of the milky way, it makes you realize how small and precious our lives are on Earth.

Screen Shot 2015-09-21 at 8.17.47 PM
This is a snapshot of Ian Norman’s work that was recently featured on National Geographic.

Norman also explains the technical knowledge needed to make his pictures come to life. On his website he explains that when shooting, it is critical to have a fast lens that is somewhere in the range of f1.4-f2.8. It is also important that you set up your shot to have an exposure of about 15-30 seconds depending on which lens you choose and the conditions of the night sky. One of the greatest parts about Norman’s work is that he demonstrates that you do not need incredibly expensive camera gear to capture the starts beautifully. He shows that knowledge on how to use the camera as well as finding the best locations can compensate for expensive equipment. Norman has also been working with smartphones to try to capture the milky way. 

Ian Norman took this photo with a point and shoot camera (Sony RX100).

I am interested in these photos because I have always loved the idea of being able to capture and observe the stars through cameras. I have attempted astrophotography many times and it is very difficult, which makes me respect, appreciate and enjoy Ian Norman’s work even more. The photos that Ian Norman has taken of the Milky Way have taken years of dedication to his craft and the awe-inspiring results that he has achieved thus will continue to inspire me to get out and capture the stars.


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