Ben Coffman spends his nights capturing the starry skies of Oregon, and the results are astonishing. The Portland-based photographer frequents Crater Lake and other iconic Oregon vistas during odd hours to achieve awe-inspiring, long-exposure shots showcasing the Milky Way.
The effortless natural beauty displayed in Coffman’s work isn’t captured without difficulty. Before venturing out on a shoot, the photographer researches moon phases, weather conditions and the amount of man-made light present in an area. Once in the field, freezing nighttime temperatures, gear malfunctions and even startling noises from the blackness can all complicate the process. But for the artist, it’s all worth it for a chance to “take a deep breath [and] let the darkness close around you.”
Part of his interest in astronomy-centered photos comes from his philosophy: detailing “the collision between the natural and man-made worlds.” That’s why the pictures often include objects such as a tent, a lighthouse or a rusty car as a center of interest against a starry backdrop.
Focusing on nighttime photography gives Coffman a chance to approach familiar places from a fresh perspective. “Popular postcard destinations take on a strange new meaning at night, when crowds ebb, shadows form, and the sky becomes sprinkled with stars,” he says on his website.