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The dark arts are not to be taken lightly. You might think of Harry Potter, but we’re of course talking about night photography! With the abundant mysteries behind shadows and the unknown depths of the cosmos, night photography is an art itself. Unique tools are typically called upon, but more importantly, unique minds are required. Ryland West and Paul Heran are photographers based out of Northern California that specialize in astrophotography who have developed an entirely novel way to light their shots.

Instead of using traditional lighting techniques like split and loop lighting, they have enlisted drones as their primary source of light. By attaching LED light panels to certain drones, they were able to mimic natural sunlight under the night sky. By creating cascading shadows and highlighting natural landscapes, their imagery exudes an ethereal sense of captivation.

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Photo via Ryland West and Paul Heran

Photo via Ryland West and Paul Heran

In an interview with PetaPixel, Ryland and Paul add that, “By carefully crafting shadows to manipulate landscapes, we brought a certain surreality while maintaining a natural feel to each nightscape.” By taking 20-30 shots at a scene with different lighting positions, Ryland and Paul would then stitch the photos together in Photoshop to enhance the natural layers.

Photo via Ryland West and Paul Heran

Photo via Ryland West and Paul Heran

Photo via Ryland West and Paul Heran

Photo via Ryland West and Paul Heran

Traditionally, lighting is not used on landscape shots. Ryland and Paul take it to the next level by not only creating a light source, but by using drones. This allows not only for greater maneuverability, but also cheaper production.

Photo via Ryland West and Paul Heran

Photo via Ryland West and Paul Heran

Photo via Ryland West and Paul Heran

Photo via Ryland West and Paul Heran

Photo via Ryland West and Paul Heran

Photo via Ryland West and Paul Heran

If you dare to attempt drone lighting, the 3DR Iris+ is an excellent DIY drone that allows for multiple design iterations. With its lower price point and rugged build, the Iris+ is a must for any photographer looking to add more tools to his or her tool belt! Not sure you’re up to the task of rigging a drone with LED lights? Not a problem! We have a vast selection of photo gear for stunning low light photography and drones to capture awesome aerial shots.

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