Many of you may remember Chris Kotsiopoulos' amazing 360 degree panoramas of the sky. For some of these photos, he shoots for an entire 24 hour period just to capture one scene! I recently had the pleasure of catching up with Chris, and he was nice enough to grant us an interview, which you can find below.
Could you please introduce yourself to our community?
I'm from Athens, Greece. I'm just a boring application programmer. Nothing exciting about myself, so let's talk about astrophotography! I started taking astrophotos four years ago, by accident, after my wife Tery bought me a small telescope as a present. Since then I just can't stop taking pictures of the celestial wonders combined with ancient temples, castles, monuments and the gorgeous Greek landscapes.
How did you create your amazing 360 degree panoramas?
Technically it is easy, at least for the ordinary day panoramas. The main idea is to take many photos at a 360 degree range and stitch them together with the appropriate software. The 24 hour panorama was somewhat difficult because I had to stay at the same place for almost 30 hours, take many shots at very different conditions during the day and night and then combine them in a single panorama. The photo process took me an additional 12 hours. I have included a detailed tutorial on my site.
It is a combination of art and technique because, apart from the technical part which includes the equipment, shooting techniques, and the processing, the photographer has to be able to get the most out of the subject.
What's the most common challenge when taking your shots?
There are many challenges involved, it depends on the photo. The most common challenge when I pursue a moonrise against an ancient temple is to be at the right spot, on time. Sometimes it's easy, but sometimes it's nearly impossible. Many shots require more effort than others. For example, a photo that I took at the top of Olympus mountain required an exhausting 15 hour walk and climb to the top of Greece, just to find the right angle for the shot. To conclude, I think that the greatest challenge is make the next photo better than the previous one.
What amazes you most about the sky?
Every time I set my eyes on the vastness of the sky and the earth beneath, I don't see just the stars, moon, sun and landscapes. I see stories that need to be told. What amazes me is the fact that we, humans, are so small at the cosmic scale but at the same time very significant because we are the storytellers!
What piece of advice would you give to aspiring astronomical photographers?
Have fun! There's always a positive way to see things. Even through a failure we learn something. The best way to learn to take photos is… to take many, many photos! Grab the camera, go outside and shoot something. Nothing significant is going to happen if you sit on your couch and watch TV! Experiment a lot, seek knowledge and inspiration from others, but at some point try to be original.