Babak Tafreshi@babaktafreshi

National Geographic night sky photographer | The World at Night founder | Prints: | Workshops-Aurora Phototours:

428 posts 177,083 followers 185 following

From this vantage point on the southern coast of Australia, there is no landmass between you and Antarctica, an immense space covered with the Southern Ocean. The view towards the south is amazingly dark due to absence of any lights. It was breathtaking to watch the Galaxy sinking in the ocean.
#timelapse #australia #victoria #greatoceanroad #southernocean #milkyway #nightscape #astrophotography #nightsky #nightphotography #stargazing @natgeo @natgeocreative @natgeotravel @twanight

Great Ocean Road

Swipe left to see the 4-part panorama of a peaceful day in Montmartre, Paris. Classic theater posters, the works of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, decorate a shop’s front window.
While I’m considered a night sky photography expert, a large part of my photo collection are daytime images which I usually don’t post them here.
#paris #montmartre #france #panorama @natgeo @natgeocreative @natgeotravel

Paris, France

Fly me to the moon! To continue with the moon collection this one is fresh from the camera, an elegant New Moon crescent above Boston skyline last night (Nov 19). See it this evening higher in the sky, right after sunset.
We moved from Germany to Boston area about 2 years ago. It’s easy to fall in love with this city.
#astrophotography #nightphotography #newmoon #boston #newengland #massachusetts #twanight @natgeo @natgeocreative @natgeotravel @twanight

Boston, Massachusetts

A great part of photography is the Art of Seeing and that only works when you know the abilities and field of view of your lens, when looking for the composition that excites you or illustrates the story you have in mind.
I travel frequently for my work, sometimes to very remote locations, but there are also a lot to explore and photograph in your own neighborhood. The last 3 posts are such examples, in a walking distance from my place. This shot is a single-exposure frame from the October full moon imaging night.
#fullmoon #astrophotography #newengland #boston #massachusetts @natgeocreative @natgeo @natgeotravel @twanight

Lynn Shore Reservation

Moon & Venus rival for beauty in the morning sky, a celestial pairing photographed yesterday half an hour before sunrise. The early risers see a different world!
#moon #venus #astrophotography #astronomy #stargazing #fineartphotography @natgeocreative @natgeo @natgeotravel @twanight

Boston, Massachusetts

The view this morning, 40 minutes before sunrise. The very thin crescent moon formed a celestial triangle with Venus (center), and Jupiter (top-right). A sudden clear horizon after a cold rainy night. On the horizon is possibly an LNG tanker, a massive ship transporting natural gas. Photographed from the North Shore of Boston.
For more of these sky event photos check @twanight and The World at Night website:
@natgeocreative @natgeo @natgeotravel #astrophotography #nightphotography #venus #moon #astronomy #lynnmass #boston #massachusetts #newengland #ocean

Lynn Shore Reservation

A winter evening in a traditional Sami village near Kiruna in Swedish Lapland. Aurora is a master artist of nature with its ever changing forms and colors painted by these dancing lights in polar areas. See the Ursa Major (the Big Bear) in top right with its seven brighter stars (the Big Dipper) standing like a question mark. Polaris is at the top left and bright star Arcturus is on the horizon (right). Wonder where and when to see the lights, see my @natgeo web article “7 Magical Places to View Auroras”. Google aurora natgeo. Where I will be next for aurora chasing? See (or my profile link).
#twanight #aurora #auroraborealis #northernlights #longexposure #nightphotography #astrophotography #sweden #lapland #kiruna #saami @natgeo @natgeocreative @natgeotravel @twanight

Kiruna, Sweden

It’s incredible how much our knowledge has changed in the past one century. Until early 20th century the Milky Way was the only known galaxy! Many galaxies were observed but identified as objects inside the Milky Way. Today we know the universe has over a trillion galaxies, each holding many billions of stars. Here in a starry night of La Palma, Canary Islands, I was inside the 4-meter William Herschel Telescope as it was collecting starlight for astronomers in the control room. Note the startrails on the mirror, resulted from magnified star images (therefore faster moving) produced by the giant mirror.
Learn more about my annual La Palma workshop:
#longexposure #nightphotography #observatory #telescope #milkyway #astrophotography #astronomy #cosmology @natgeocreative @natgeo @natgeotravel @twanight

Roque de los Muchachos Observatory

Swipe left to see this 2-panel image. The aurora display was so extended across the sky that even my 14mm lens was not wide enough to capture the entire view. Panorama was the only way to show the real beauty of this scene above waterfalls streaming out of a lava field into Hvita river in Iceland. The dusk was still visible when the northern lights emerged. Iceland has much more massive waterfalls but this one is one of my favorites because of its dark unspoiled open sky, one of my locations in the March 2018 Aurora PhotoTour: (or click the profile link)
Aurora is all about high energy particles from the sun (solar wind) crashing into Earth atmosphere. On the ground we are shielded from this intense radiation and peacefully enjoy the show. The red light is created by glowing oxygen more than 120 miles (200 km) above our planet’s surface, while the green originates much lower―only about 60 miles (100 km) up. The purple originates with nitrogen.

@natgeocreative @twanight #auroraborealis #northernlights #iceland #astrophotography #nightphotography #longexposure #panorama


Swipe left to see this 2-panel panorama. A calm peaceful dusk on the western border of Iran. Last night was different when a major earthquake hit an area not too far from this place, taking hundreds of lives in Kermanshah province where I’ve visited a number of times for photography when I was living in Iran; an area filled with archeological sites and rich culture, but poor infrastructure against natural hazards. Today post is a tribute to thousands of families who were affected.
The photo shows Uraman, a mountainous area of unique villages in Kurdistan of Iran. In the sky Venus is the first “star” showing up in twilight.
@natgeocreative @natgeo @natgeotravel @twanight #earthquake #iran #kurdistan #uraman

Uraman, Kordestan, Iran

The two brightest planets in our night sky, Venus and Jupiter, paired in a beautiful conjunction these mornings. The show continues this week but tomorrow Nov 13 is the best as they get really close (only from the Earth perspective), similar to this image captured in Boston a couple of years ago. Zoom to the center to see the pair clearly.
Wake up an hour before sunrise and look to an open east-southeast horizon. Remember they are close to the horizon so that direction should be open. They rise higher and prominent until the morning light fades them away.
@natgeocreative @natgeo @twanight #astrophotography #longexposure #nightscape #venus #astronomy #stargazing #skyline #cities #boston #massachusetts #newengland

Boston, Massachusetts

Nebula Rising. A single exposure telephoto image of the Great Orion Nebula (right) rising over a mountain top. I’m revealing the techniques and processing behind these photos in the new book “Notes From the Stars”, a joint self-published project with 9 other nightscape photographers. You can support the project by ordering copies now and backing us on Kickstarter:

Also visible here are the Flame Nebula and the dark Horsehead Nebula (center), the bright three stars of Orion’s Belt, the Running Man Nebula (next to Orion Nebula), and M78 (a diffuse dot on the left). @natgeocreative @natgeo @natgeotravel @twanight @deepskycolors #astrophotography #nightscape #nightsky #nightphotography #longexposure #stargazing #astronomy #nebula #deepsky #fineartphotography

La Palma Canary Island

“Adventures in Nightscape Photography”, backstories on some of my iconic images and tips on astrophotography. Join me on Sunday Nov 12 at 17:00UT (12:00 ET / 9:00 PT) for this FacebookLive interview by Astronomers Without Borders:

The self-portrait here is a summer night on Sierra Mountains, California. #astrophotography #longexposure #nightphotography #nightscape #milkyway @natgeocreative @natgeo @natgeotravel @twanight


Constellation Cassiopeia (W shape at top) and colorful aurora in the morning twilight of Iceland.
Join me on the next northern lights photo trip to Iceland, March 11-18: (or click my profile link). @natgeotravel @natgeo @natgeocreative @twanight #auroraborealis #aurora #northernlights #iceland #cassiopeia #astrophotography #longexposure #constellation


A face in the clouds under the four brighter stars of the Dragon head (constellation Draco). The lower clouds are lit by yellow sodium streetlights. I have photographed many “faces” at night. These are good examples of Pareidolia when our brain detect faces even in irrelevant contexts, neuroscience can explain it today.
This view was photographed on top of Haleakala crater, at 10,000 feet high. From my Aug 2015 trip to #Hawaii, when I visited the beautiful #Maui for a talk at one of the @natgeofineart galleries.
@natgeo @natgeocreative @natgeotravel @twanight #clouds #astrophotography #haleakala #nightsky #nightphotography #longexposure #fineartphotography

Haleakalā National Park

The story of astrophotography began with one of these moon images in the 19th century, soon after the birth of practical photography (1839). Due to very low sensitivity of the metal sheets the exposure for a super bright moon through a telescope was several minutes! Today we can easily do it at 1/1000th of a second.
Here I was in Harvard College Observatory (near Boston) photographing one of the earliest remained astrophotographs, a daguerreotype plate that pictured moon in 1852. There are over 500,000 glass photographic plates in the Harvard collection from both northern and southern hemisphere sky, a unique resource which is being digitalized. This post is a tribute to Alison Doane (holding the frame here), the Curator of Harvard Astronomical Photographs Collection, who passed away last week at the age of 59. Not a scientist, but her dedication to science, preserved this heritage for next generations. Asteroid 7517 Alisondoane named in appreciation of her work.
@natgeo @natgeocreative @natgeotravel @harvard #astrophotography #harvard #boston #daguerreotype

Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics

Himalayas, where I always dream to return. This was an amazing trip in Nov 2009 with @oshindzakarian, my long-time friend & fellow @twanight photographer. The moonlight shines on Ama Dablam, a spectacular mountain in Nepal, not far from Mt Everest. Bright star cluster known as the Beehive or M44, is rising over the peak (top right). The object is also visible to the naked eye but as a little patch of cloud, if you know where to look.
@natgeo @natgeotravel @natgeocreative #himalayas #nightscape #mountains #astrophotography #nightsky #nightphotography #longexposure #stargazing #nepal

Sagarmatha National Park

A single exposure image of majestic Milky Way view, as constellation Scorpius with bright orange star Antares, the Scorpion’s heart, rises above the Valley of the Moon, in the Atacama Desert, Chile. Planet Saturn is on the top left.
As some of you know I prefer single exposure photos. The main reason is the value of moment and historic credibility in a single raw file. But I also like to challenge myself with old-school on-the-field techniques which I have done with film too, a joy that I can’t find in photoshop composites and exposure blends which is currently very common in night photography. That’s just my personal taste and respect those composite photos as long as they are not fake! That means a mix of photos taken at different places, or in day and night, or with different lenses, without notifying the viewer. For example double exposing the moon in somewhere it does not exist.
The secret behind my bright clear views at night in single exposure photography are using: fast lens, excellent night sky conditions, star tracker at 1/2 speed, fine processing on raw files, and a full-frame camera with low noise performance. While I’m not able to answer your technical questions here I hope this helps. Find more on my online webinars: (the link under my bio)
@natgeo @natgeocreative @natgeotravel @twanight #milkyway #nightscape #astrophotography #nightsky #nightphotography #longexposure #stargazing #sanpedrodeatacama #atacama #chile

Valle de la Luna

Still clearly remember this fantastic night at the border of Brazil and Argentina in 2010. The arc of the southern Milky Way shines brightly on this starry night. In the foreground is the rainforest near the spectacular Iguaçu Falls and national park, a World Heritage Site that includes 275 falls spreading across 3 km of Iguacu river and is widely considered as one of the new Seven Wonders of the world. Looking skyward along the Milky Way’s arc from the left are Alpha and Beta Centauri, the Coalsack dark nebula and the Southern Cross, the Carina Nebula, and Sirius, brightest star in planet Earth’s night sky which is at the far right. Brilliant Canopus (center), second brightest star in the night, and our neighboring galaxy the Large Magellanic Cloud, are also included in the scene. Much closer to home, lights near the center along the horizon are from Argentina’s Iguazu Falls Airport.
I was located on the northern side in Brazil. There were challenges to make @twanight (The World at Night) photos here, besides the long travel. The area is very wet at this high water season and working at night with long exposures close to the falls damages the camera easily, and it’s often foggy and cloudy. Staying in front of the roaring giant falls at night with Southern Milky Way and the Magellanic Clouds in front me and dense rainforest in my back was an experience to remember. After three night of overcast sky, the clear sky came but didn’t last more than few hours but it was enough for a successful night adventure in this paradise.

@natgeocreative @natgeo @natgeotravel #iguaçu #iguacufalls #brazil #nightsky #milkyway #southernsky #astrophotography #longexposure #nightphotography #nightscape

Iguacu Falls - Brazil & Argentina

One of the most pleasant walks in Boston area is the Harvard Yard in Cambridge. Here in a clear day of late October I was enjoying the red maple trees surrounded by young minds and old walls of Harvard. It is the oldest institution of higher education in the US, established in 1636. The university has alumni from about 200 countries including 47 Nobel Laureates, 32 heads of state, and 48 Pulitzer Prize winners.
@natgeocreative @harvard #massachusetts #newengland #harvard #fall #HarvardInAutumn

Harvard University

Photo by @babaktafreshi
The World at Night photography
This was a stunning show of aurora borealis above West Iceland in March 2015. With my wife @shadihamedi, also a night sky lover, we chased clear sky to Kirkjufell area to catch the strongest aurora storm in a decade. In the view Venus shines brightly on the horizon, constellation Orion is on the left and Pleiades is in the center.
I visit Iceland every year for an aurora photography workshop and still there are plenty to explore in this small (1% of the US area) but very rich country. Join my next Aurora Photo Tour to Iceland in March 2018:
(or click my bio link)
@natgeocreative @twanight #auroraborealis #northernlights #iceland #astrophotography #nightphotography #longexposure


A night drive into the New England fall colors. An image for @twanight (TWAN - The World at Night) project a few years ago. The Milky Way and prominent winter stars are framed between maple leaves in New Hampshire. Yellow light dome of a faraway city glows on the horizon.
@natgeocreative @natgeo @natgeotravel #astrophotography #skyscape #nightsky #nightphotography #longexposure #stargazing #newengland #newhampshire #fallcolors #mapleleaf #roadtrip #drives #scenichighway

Kancamagus Highway

The morning twilight emerges as stars and the crescent moon rise above the tomb of Cyrus the Great in this time-exposure image. The 2500-year old World Heritage Site in southern Iran means beyond an ancient monument to many Iranians who celebrate today October 29th (7th of Aban in Persian calendar) as Cyrus Day. This unofficial holiday which brings thousands of people to the ancient site of Pasargadae is sensitive to the Islamic authorities in Iran who are concerned of growing interest in pre-Islamic values and traditions.
October 29th commemorates the entrance of Cyrus into Babylon. He founded the Persian Empire known as Achaemenid, which later became the largest empire in human history. Cyrus is recognized for his achievements in politics, leadership, and freedom of religion which influenced both Eastern and Western civilizations. I often wonder how many of us will be remembered in 2500 years, for good.
@twanight @natgeocreative #fars #cyrusthegreat #pasargadae #iran #worldheritagesite #startrails #astrophotography #longexposure

Pasargad, Fars, Iran

One of my most favorite places on the planet. Moments after sunset clouds formed in the Caldera de Taburiente in La Palma, Canary Islands, move in a time-exposure image. I will do my master night sky photo workshop & tour here on May 15-21, called Astromaster. More info:
Or the link in my bio. See more of La Palma on today’s story.
@natgeotravel @natgeocreative @natgeo @twanight #spain #canaryislands #lapalma #astromaster #longexposure #astrophotography

Canary Islands

Fall has been always my favorite season, the fresh air, change of colors, and beautiful night sky. We even named our baby boy after this season: Aban, the middle month of autumn (like November) in the Persian calendar.
Here fall colors appear in the high altitude Dohezar Forest with the backdrop of Alborz Mountains in northern Iran, not far from the Caspian Sea. A scanned negative from 2001.
@natgeocreative @natgeo @natgeotravel #autumn🍁 #fallcolors #aban #mazandaran #dohezarforest #iran

Shahsavar, Mazandaran, Iran

Dancing northern lights above the iconic Kirkjufell in West Iceland. The timelapse video show the motion faster but still the lights are moving notably fast to the eyes, when they are active during a geomagnetic unrest like this. My next Aurora Photo Tour & Workshop on March 11-18 is now open to registration on
(or click my bio link). Join me on this adventure to a country which often looks like a different planet!
Learn when and where to see the lights on my National Geographic Travel web article “7 Magical Places to View Auroras”. Google “aurora natgeo”.
#aurora #auroraborealis #northernlights #iceland #astrophotography #nightphotography #longexposure #photography #photoworkshop #nightsky @twanight @natgeocreative @natgeo @natgeotravel


My next Aurora Photo Tour & Workshop is announced:
(or click my bio link)
2018 March 11-18 + optional southern coast package. See & photograph aurora borealis in the best time of the year at one of the world’s best destinations for the northern lights. Appears here is one of our locations in West Iceland with my co-organizer colleague @gislimararnas.
#aurora #auroraborealis #northernlights #iceland #astrophotography #nightphotography #longexposure #photography #photoworkshop #nightsky @twanight @natgeocreative


To me there is no color as beautiful as the maple leaves in the peak of fall foliage. Swipe left for this 2-panel view from October 2015 when the full moon was rising above the Vale or the Lyman Estate, a National Historic Landmark near Boston, one of the finest examples of a country estate in the 18-19th century US.
For the followers interested in photography aspects and might ask: This is a single exposure image. As a personal preference I do not practice double-exposure, blending or HDR in my photography. Its all about timing and the camera’s dynamic range to allow some shadow-highlight recovery in the edit. When the moon is on the right angle on the right time there is enough light from the dusk on the opposite horizon to illuminate the foreground, while the moon is not high enough to get over-exposed.
@natgeocreative @natgeo @twanight #boston #walthamma #fullmoon #fallcolors #autumnleaves #maple #panorama

Waltham, Massachusetts

Alpine moonrise. The moon and stars of Scorpion rise over the Alps in Carinthia, Austria. Photographed in 2011
@natgeo @natgeocreative @natgeotravel @twanight #alps #austria #carinthia #embergeralm #moonlight #nightphotography #longexposure

Carinthia (state)

Desert morning sky. Last week camping in Utah. The blue cast of morning twilight and fading starry sky. The bright winter stars from Sirius (left) to constellations Orion (center) Taurus. Note the Seven Sisters or Pleiades star cluster on the right.
@natgeotravel @natgeo @natgeocreative @twanight #nightsky #orion #sirius #utah #desert #longexposure #astrophotography