- Michael Zhang · Feb 13, 2013
Alan Friedman of Buffalo, New York is an amateur astrophotography enthusiast who captures amazing photographs of the Sun through a telescope in his backyard. His highly detailed photographs show the sun in ways you never see with your naked eye. Using special filters that allow the photos to be captured without destroying his camera or his eyes, Friedman creates images of our life-giving star that look more like something you might see under a microscope.
In his artist statement for the work, Friedman writes,
My photographs comprise a solar diary, portraits of a moment in the life of our local star. Most are captured from my backyard in Buffalo, NY. Using a small telescope and narrow band filters I can capture details in high resolution and record movements in the solar atmosphere that change over hours and sometimes minutes.
The raw material for my work is black and white and often blurry. As I prepare the pictures, color is applied and tonality is adjusted to better render the features. It is photojournalism of a sort. The portraits are real, not painted. Aesthetic decisions are made with respect for accuracy as well as for the power of the image.
Friedman says that the filter (called a Hydrogen Alpha filter) he uses blocks everything but a very narrow slice of the deep red end of the visible spectrum. After attaching the filter to the front of his 3 1/2-inch telescope (the equivalent of a 450mm f/5 telephoto lens), he uses an industrial webcam to capture the photos. The camera can capture images at 15fps to 120fps.
Our atmosphere is a formidable obstacle to capturing sharp photos of a distant object. Streaming many frames in a short period of time allows me to temper the blurring effects of air turbulence. Each photo is made from many thousands of frames. Most frames are unusable, distorted by the heat currents rising from rooftops and asphalt driveways. But a few will be sharp. I review the video frame by frame for these moments of “good seeing.” The high quality frames are selected and then averaged to form the raw material for my photographs.
Without further ado, here’s a small gallery of some of Friedman’s finest work:
Zooming in a little closer, we get to see the details of the ejections:
Here’s the telescope Friedman for the images. He calls it Little Big Man:
If you’re at all interested in this work, be sure to watch this TED Talk Friedman gave last year regarding it: