Don Whitebread: Starlight

August 27 – December 31, 2016

Select images from photographer Don Whitebread’s Starlight series are on display at The Image Flow.


Don Whitebread has been making photographs since his teens and is primarily self-taught through reading, collaboration, and experimentation. Among his recent accomplishments are solo exhibits at the World Affairs Council and the San Francisco Airport Museum, and group exhibits at the Center for Photographic Art, Viewpoint Photographic Art Center, Etherton Gallery, and Yosemite Renaissance. Whitebread has also been featured in magazines LensWork and Black and White and has published articles in Luminous Landscape and Photo Techniques. From his artist statement on the series:

I spent the summers of my youth wherever my father’s work as a geologist took us, usually camped deep in a Nevada mountain range. Watching the slow change of light and weather during the day, and the flowing pattern of stars at night was my best entertainment. This background fueled my interest in photography and has drawn me to remote locations throughout my life.

This Starlight portfolio started with a photographic experiment on a moonless night backpacking in the Eastern Sierra, and has evolved into the most deliberate work I’ve done. Once I got caught up in this project, it was no longer good enough to happen on to the clear skies, moonless nights, and remote locations that I needed. Being a pilot gives me access to remarkable weather prediction tools, and I have become familiar with the motion of the stars at different times of the year, but nature is full of surprises and I am still only able to make a few of these images every year. The starlight is wonderfully diffuse, the night sky has bright spots that can be crucial to making a composition from the path of the stars and the faint shapes in the landscape. Whatever the planning, travel and weather complications, when I start an exposure, the hour or two I spend waiting and watching in the starlight is rejuvenating.

Ancient cultures used the stars to predict the seasons, navigate the seas and develop religions. Humans have a long relationship with the stars, yet today, that connection has been lost. Organizations I work with are helping decrease light pollution, but that still does not get people outside at night. My original goal to record an impression of the night sky and the special light it casts on the landscape has become a desire to remind people that the stars have played a major part in the human experience, and should be appreciated for their beauty and majesty. There is no more profound way to experience a sense of our small place in something infinitely large than taking time to watch the swirling stars on a dark night.
– Don Whitebread


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