About Alex Woronow
My CV is my Vision Statement
In seventh grade I had the good fortune of having Mr. Bagshaw as my first science teacher. He set the compass for my life’s path. His easy rapport with his young students made him the perfect mentor. Each classroom hour with him was a deeply fulfilling adventure in science and often in his passion for astronomy. I was hooked: astronomy quickly became my passion, too. By high school I had ground a telescope mirror and spent many nights searching for deep-sky objects through the humid, bright, night sky of Long Beach, California. College provided an undergraduate degree in astronomy from University of California (Berkeley). Then I went to work at NASA in Houston during the pre-Apollo era. The work was unsatisfying, so I returned to school and another charismatic and talented teacher, Dr. Bert King at the University of Houston, introduced me to planetary science. I obtained my Ph.D. at Harvard with a dissertation analyzing the geologic history of the surface of Mars and then became a research fellow in the Planetary Sciences Department at the University of Arizona. With NASA grants in hand, eight years later I returned to the University of Houston’s Geology Department as a faculty member.
At that time I was not doing any through-the-telescope activities, but discovered the sensual beauty of Edward Weston’s earthbound photography —works done decades earlier. When I retired and moved to the Southwest, I built a darkroom, collected antique cameras, and began learning photographic composition and rendering.
Re-enter astronomy! Digital cameras revolutionized amateur astronomy. By about the year 2000 amateurs were photographing deep sky objects with colors and details a professional astronomer would have envied just a couple of decades earlier. I gave this new astro-photography a try, and loved it. Creativity has no limits, so while some “astro-imagers” produce ethereal, almost Jean-Harlow-gauzy images in muted colors, others coax out every detail and increase the impact with deep, stunning colors. There’s no right way because the human eye has far too little sensitivity to detect colors and details in the faint object without the help of long-exposure imaging. Furthermore, some of the images use light frequencies that the eye simply cannot see at all!
Now I lease imaging time on top quality amateur telescopes from California to New Mexico, from Spain to Australia. Hours of exposure time, and even more hours of computer-based image processing, reveal the detail and render the colors of our remarkable universe. I print the products on a substrate that, I believe, conveys the feelings of violence, chaos, structure, and stability that has built our universe: the Metal Print.
I sell my prints just slightly above my cost of printing and shipping them. I do not charge for the telescope time I purchased, the computers and software I use, or the time I spend processing the data. As the small pad of net receipts accumulates, I donate it in full to humanitarian charities, principally Doctors Without Borders, Planned Parenthood, and the Unicef Children’s Fund. (Please note: Faint-Light Photography is not itself a registered charitable organization.)