A Conversation With Rachel Ross – Eyes On The Stars
Today we visit with Rachel Ross, a photographer who calls the Canadian Rockies her home and has her eyes and camera focused on the stars. In our continuing Conversations With series, I visit with Rachel and catch up on what she has been doing the Pandemic.
I stumbled on some of Rachel’s images recently and knew I had to speak with her. She is a full-time photographer and member of the Sony Alpha Imaging Collective. She lives in one of the best places in the world to do Astro Photography, the Canadian Rockies. Her passion and journey to capturing the stars is quite fascinating.
Rachel loves the outdoors and is the kind of woman you want to have with you when the going gets tough. She has a passion for the outdoors and shares stories about some of her adventures. Her path to photography, like many of us kind of came out of the blue.
Along the way, she discovered astrophotography and is probably one of the foremost experts on the topic. She shares some of her tricks. One trick is how to focus on stars, especially with a focus by wire lens. And a particular filter from Lonely Speck that she uses. The Sharp Star filter is worth the price of admission alone.
Rachel suffers from the same affliction many of us do GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome). She owns numerous camera bodies and lenses. On her hikes, she starts with three camera bodies, lenses, and a tripod. Obvious she is someone who has a healthy back.
To find her locations and see where the Milky Way will be, she uses Photo Pills, an app for the iPhone and iPad. This is an excellent app for doing location research and also has augmented abilities. We will be featuring Photo Pills in a future article.
For doing her night photos, she uses several different wide-angle lenses. She uses Sony a7r iii camera bodies. One of these has a Sony 16-35mm G-Master lens on it and is dedicated to doing just time-lapse photography. Her 12mm lens is her go-to lens for her landscape work. She also shoots with a Zeiss Batis 18mm and Sony FE 20mm 1.8 and a 21mm Zeiss Loxia 2.8 lens. The 21mm lens is a manual focus and works great for night photography. The Sony 24mm 1.4 GM lens is her favorite for night shooting.
As simple as night photography may sound, it is not. In the video, Rachel notes that she can visit one location every night for a week, and the light at night will be different each time. This presents challenges as most of the time; you’ll shooting wide open or close to it. She solves these challenges by focus stacking as well as multiple exposures to stack images to eliminate noise. I highly recommend that you take a look at Rachel’s in field workshops and online workshops if you are interested in this type of photography.
Sometimes Rachel will resort to using some auxiliary lighting to light up the foreground or even a subject like a cabin, tree, or whatever. She will light these with headlamps, flashlights, or a light panel made by Luxli.
For workflow, she uses Bridge and Adobe Camera RAW. Lightroom she’ll use for timelapse image merging. You’ll also find her dabbling in Capture One for her landscape work. For her time-lapse work, she uses a program called LRTimelapse. A cool app for stacking her night sky shots, she uses Starry Landscape Stacker.
She pretty much a self-taught photographer and learned a lot from friends and trip and error. During her Covid-19 quarantine, Rachel came up with the idea of running workshops online. She is offering a Night Photography course online. Very cool idea and Rachel has gotten great feedback from doing these. She accomplishes this through webinars and personal coaching. She explains all of this in the video.
I hope you have enjoyed the video with Rachel. Check out her website and workshops. Below are some more images from Rachel. Please stay safe.
More Images By Rachel
Photography is my passion and has been for5 0 plus years. My career in photography has allowed me to travel the world, meet some of the most interesting people on the planet and see things I could never have dreamed of. My goal is to share the passion of picture taking through photographs and teaching with as many people as I can, hoping it brings them as much joy and happiness as it has me. I do this through photoPXL.com, this site, as well as Rockhopper Workshops, and other projects, as well as teaching as Artist In Residence at the Indianapolis Art Center.