Photography Technique

In Conversation With the Astrophotographer

Using long exposures, Diamond records motion, light, fireflies, and starry skies in his images. All photos by Julian Diamond

Photographer, meteorologist, and Dutchess County native Julian Diamond portrays the hidden beauty of our region in his landscape photographs.

Since the inception of photography, the medium has been inextricably linked to painting. Cameras made paint obsolete as a tool for documenting reality, prompting painters to expand the art form in concept and aesthetic. As they were off exploring new, non-objective frontiers, the Young Turks of fine art—photographers—sought to subvert the notion that the camera is merely a representational tool, unable to reach beyond the apparatus of vision. Famously, in 1933, when Ansel Adams met with the Dean of the School of Fine Arts at Yale, he could not believe that Adams’ prints were not paintings or drawings.

new paltz ridge

Wallkill Valley Rail Trail in New Paltz

For all their disparities throughout art history, today, it is evident as ever that photography is a legitimate sibling to its painterly predecessor. Notably, both mediums afford an artist the ability to represent realities that are invisible to the naked eye. Such is the case with Julian Diamond, a Dutchess County native who draws from his education as a meteorologist to capture celestial landscape photographs in the Hudson Valley. Using long exposures—the photographic technique of opening a camera’s shutter for extended periods of time—Diamond records motion, light, fireflies, and starry skies in his images.

“You’re never very far from civilization here in the Hudson Valley, so when shooting photos at night, conversations with police and nearby homeowners are not uncommon. Standing in a dark field for hours on end tends to draw attention.”

To learn more about his photography practice, we sat down with Diamond to discuss local art history, light pollution, and making landscapes in the Hudson Valley.

Ferncliff Forest

Tell us a bit about your background. How did you arrive at photography and meteorology?

I’m a Dutchess County native. Photography has been a big part of my life for as long as I can remember. As a kid, I’d come home from summer camp toting an armful of exposed disposable Kodaks, each containing a couple interesting photos flanked by around 25 duds. I was interested in finding out why some pictures were good, but most weren’t. Spoiler alert: It’s usually the light.

This passion evolved in parallel with my lifelong interest in meteorology, which I would eventually study in college, and which continues to drive my art. For me, the two pursuits are now inseparable. I take photos to document and analyze the weather [and] to find subject matter for my photos. It’s hard to say when my photography became more than just a hobby, but today it’s my primary source of income.

Storm King Mountain

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