A young man with his head in the clouds
“My mind works differently to many others, I tend to see things that people that aren’t on the spectrum don't see, although, it's impossible for me to explain…” [ Luke Vadekar]
The stunning photo on our cover is of The Milky Way. It was taken by young photographer/astronomer and St Ives prodigy, Luke Vadekar. Locals will often spot Luke standing patiently beside his tripod, telescopic lens pointed up towards a dark clear sky or out across a serene landscape. The results are devastatingly beautiful images of shimmering galaxies or liquid-glass waterways.
The 17-year has been a keen photographer from an early age.
“I first became interested in photography in early primary school using a small digital camera and phone. I was taking photos of nature like trees, flowers, insects and birds. I also took photos of the sky, like rainbows, clouds, sunsets,” says Luke.
Mostly self-taught, Luke hones his craft by watching tutorial videos and studying other people’s photographs to help him get ideas on how to compose his next shot. However, as his commitment grows more serious, he is seeking to formalise his training.
“Just this year I registered into an online photography course that will help me achieve a diploma in photography so that I can pursue a career in this field…I would love to pursue a profession relating to my passion in photography and astronomy. As you can imagine, photography equipment can be very expensive. I definitely need to find a way to make a living out of my passion.”
To that end, Luke is seeking opportunities to earn money now from his photography and is extending his skillset to include events, portraits, and real estate photography.
The skies, however, remain his first love, and with that comes the need for specialised equipment.
“To start off, I need an equatorial mount which follows the rotation of the earth in order to keep the stars from drifting in the photo. I’ve also got a telescope that my camera can be attached to and take photos of celestial objects that can be magnified by the telescope,” explains Luke. “My main setup is a solid tripod and a mirrorless camera, for which I have multiple lenses.”
Like any good artist, Luke can still work magic with much more basic equipment and he has taken some incredible images using his phone.
“My mobile phone is a Huawei Mate 20 Pro and runs on Android. I use the built in camera. I don’t use anything else to capture photos using my mobile phone other than a tripod.”
Ultimately, though, it’s not expensive equipment and high tech gadgetry that make a good photographer - it’s commitment; and there’s no doubt Luke has plenty of that.
“It does take a lot of time, practice, persistence, patience, and dedication to keep improving my work. I spend a lot of time going out to places where I can compose a photo that I have had in mind. While I do day time photos, I am very passionate about night photography because it challenges me to use various photography techniques such as long exposures, changing camera settings.”
And that’s just the time out in the field. Luke then has to follow it up in the digital lab.
“I spend a lot of time on post production using Adobe Lightroom and occasionally Adobe Photoshop. I also use specialised apps for image stacking of my astro photos.”
It’s not all work and no play, though.
“I occasionally go to the skate park to get some exercise on my scooter and also see some of my friends.”