Lóránd Fényes astrophotographer and his faith

Written by: Krisztina Mike

'To explore the Universe, to think about what other worlds are beyond our Solar System - always impressed me.' Lóránd started to explore astronomy when he was a young adult, using astronomer telescope.

'To create one picture' - he continued - 'may take around 20-50 hours, working even more than hundreds of photos, that will stand as a whole at the end. For that reason we can say that astrophotography is a side of nature photography that doesn't promise quick successes. If you start it, you need to dive deep and make it part of your life rather than just creating according to the trends and rhythms of the astro community pages. Then the work under the sky - with all of its difficulties and all the processing time of the pictures - will be a beautiful activity. It slows you down comparing to the norm of our world, but it is good like that. And you will need a bit of self-knowledge.'

In the summer of 2013, Lóránd travelled to Namibia. He was planning this expedition for a long time. 'In this part of Africa, the sky is stunning. Practically there are no artificial lights, there is no light pollution and the astro climate is perfect.' This photograph about the Milky Way was taken during his expedition there. He stopped the car under the clear sky, took out his camera and shot the picture. His aim was to show how visible the Milky Way with the naked eyes. 'With the technics of the long exposure that is used by astrophotographers shows that the Universe is incredibly colourful. To get the rich colours of a deep sky picture, one would need a transformed, more sensible camera and a lot of time.'

'My confrontation with the African sky shook me. Not only on the field of natural science. It was an experience of faith: those scenes that I captured before from our world suddenly started to roll above me. Looking into the heart of our galaxy, the being of God became visible behind it. I think that when these "wow" type of experiences happen in our lives, they will also lead us further forward.'

He takes the rest of the photos from his home, in a small village. The sky there is clear and pitch dark, which makes it possible for him to carry on with his passion even from home. The hours he spends with creating one picture are divided to three sections.

The planning fills 10%, creating of image fills 60% and the developing fills 30% of his time.

'I was always close to photography, taking photos about landscapes, places, nature and people. My dad was the one who was encouraging me, from my childhood, he gave me the first film camera into my hands. The amateur astronomy caught my attention while I was a teenager. Around that, time when I  also got my first telescope, in the house of my parents. This interest of mine came along with me, with various intensity, during the beginning years of my thirties, when I bought my first astrophotographer tool set. That was the point when I realised, how the nature could be connected with the detection of the outer space in a common activity.'

In 2012 he won the category of the best newcomer in the Royal Observatory's Astronomy photographer of the year award, with his photo of the Elephant's Trunk uncoiling from the dusty nebula saw.

Lóránd carried on explaining how he found his faith through an empirical path. Astrophotography means relaxing, an opportunity to spend more time with God. For him God is not an abstract, elusive thing.

'My faith is not based on an earlier crisis situation. Given my careful inner scepticism, would not allow me to go to that path. It is rather an empirical experience. These experiences are important for me; searching, researching and exploring. They are also present in astrophotography and in bible study, in praying and in the God-seeking life.'

© Lóránd Fényes

IC1396A Elephant's Trunk Nebula

Choosing a theme to photograph, depending on the season, Lóránd is always looking for a topic, which are visible in their best way in that relevant period. It is important for him, that these deep sky objects, planets or stars are at their high noon, at the highest point of their orbit. He is also aware of the movements of the object. Comparing their movements to sunset, sunrise and lunar phases, they all together frames the timing of the pictures. These things are well known months before the actual shooting, which why he has a year plan.

'When the chosen date is getting closer, I have to take into account the weather conditions (clouds, humidity, the calmness of the atmosphere and the actual background brightness). Another question would be the traffic of flights and satellites. If on the day itself everything is ideal, there still could happen something unexpected during the night, that may force you to leave half done the work of the day. But it is not a problem. This is not a sport for impatient people.'

The way which led him until here was based on a personal observation, research, through questioning and doubting. Getting to know yourself is part of this journey. Finding the hidden answers. Not waiting for others to tell you what to do, instead start to walk your own path.

'To summarise, for me the existence of the outer space is not something self-serving. It surely points towards Someone, who is immeasurably larger than this enthralling, almost endless Universe of ours. Furthermore in our present - alienating world - this magnificently unfolding cosmos, at night, brings us quite close to the nature. It does it in a certain way, that the role of myself reevaluates, given the sizes. The weight of the ego, near our pulsating Universe, will necessarily decrease. And I think it is a very healthy thing to happen.'

"Searching, researching and exploring. They are present both in astrophotography

and in the God-seeking life. Both territories have their own uncertainties."