Interview With Snap The Planet Member: Joey Sandoval by

Posted in Photographer Spotlight

Welcome to Photographer Spotlight
Today featured photographer....Joey Onyxone Sandoval
Joey is an astrophotographer out of Albuquerque, New Mexico.

So, my first question is when did you first become interested in astrophotography?

When I was young, like 12 or so I used to receive a magazine called Odyssey Magazine. It was for kids that were interested in space/space travel. It was a science mag for lil nerds in the making like myself. And the pictures were so cool.... Fast forward about 20yrs and to the internet and DSLRs. I was reading science blogs and stuff that was related to space, and saw some incredible pictures, and found out that you could take said pictures with a camera. So around the time I was 32, I got my first camera as a gift.....

2) How long have you been shooting for the stars? 😋

About 4yrs, after I figured out how to use my DSLR properly...

3) What's in your camera bag?

I shoot with a Canon 6D, I have a EF 20mm f/2.8, a Sigma 15mm Diagonal Fisheye f/2.8, an EF 35mm f/2 IS USM, a "Nifty Fifty" EF 50mm f/1.8 STM, EF 85mm f/1.8, 24-105mm f/4 USM IS L, EF 75-300mm Zoom. I also have various ND filters and CPL filters for my landscape/sunset/long exposure shots.

4) Fave spot/area to shoot?

Anywhere away from a lot of light pollution, I live in New Mexico, so usually 45-60 minutes in any direction from Albuquerque, where I live. And any city I happen to visit as of late...

5) Which is better to shoot with for astrophotography? Wide angle or zoom?
How many MM?

Primes (fixed focal length) up to 35mm are the best. I like having a big f/stop, so 2.8 or bigger works. Wide is the best way to go, and as of late I'm really digging my 35mm. Tack sharp and the results are great. Fun to make panos with that lens at night.

6)When is the best time to shoot?

Depends on what you are shooting for. A New Moon, is usually ideal, but you can get great results from moon light if it's not too bright, otherwise you blow out your frame or your results aren't as dramatic as you might be going for. But everyone's different and has their own ideas as to what they are trying to achieve.

7) How does one create star trails?

That's one thing I'm not really good at, but the time I have tried to make those it turns out they aren't too hard. It's a Photoshop Action of multiple shots stacked, you can make them by running a anywhere from 15, to 50 frames at 30 second exposures, load them into PS and stack them, and run the Action. You don't want to move your camera when you do this. Then you can make a single exposure of the foreground, at the settings of your choice, and make a composite out of it. But I'm sure there are different methods, and star trails really aren't my thing unfortunately.

8) Are you self taught as an astrophotographer?

Yes, tons of trial and error. Lots of screwing up and frustration. The key is figuring out your exposure time vs. focal length to achieve the proper exposure. For instance, on a full frame camera with a 35mm lens, you don't want to go over 13sec. on your exposure. But with a 20mm on the same camera body you can go up to 25-30sec. The reason is, if you run over on 13sec. on the 35mm your stars become commas, and aren't the points of light that you see with your eyes. There is a formula to it... Oh and know your cameras threshold for noise from long low light exposures and high ISO. With the 6D I can comfortably shoot up to ISO 5000. And shoot in RAW, and adjust or use custom White Balance.

9) Who is your muse? If you have one.

My mom and fiancé, they are the two most supportive women and successful women I know. And they make me want to be the best at this. Actually in everything....

10) Whose work in astrophotography do you try to emulate?

Some of the local guys here in NM, Knate Myers, Brian Spencer, Alan Osterholtz. And Sean Parker out of Tucson, and my cousin in Sa Diego, Andrew Serrano.

11) What do you want to be when you grow up?

I refuse to grow up, punk rock and anarchy for life....

12) What tips/suggestions do you have for newbies in astrophotography?

Be patient... Pay attention to the night sky, invest in your equipment, take care of your equipment... Apps, I use Star Walk on my iPhone, I read, just for celestial events and to gain my timing and position.... Also don't trespass, and know where you are, you don't want to become a statistic....

13) Have you gotten hurt in your travels to your location?

Luckily I have never gotten hurt. I usually scope out where I want to go during the day times and between moon cycles. I always have a flashlight and headlamp. Safety in numbers, always take someone with you. If you are out in the wilderness, know your surroundings and what kind of wildlife you might happen upon. I do keep a sidearm (.45acp) when out in the forest, bears aren't no joke, neither are mountain lions.

14) Have any good stories to share?

This falls along the lines of why I keep a sidearm. I was in Jemez Springs just north of Albuquerque, and I was at a popular spot for families and daytime outings called the Gilman Tunnels. So I'm out there shooting late last summer, and I was wrapping up for the night. It was about 10-11pm and very dark in this canyon. I was breaking down my equipment and just happened to look up from my tripod, (I had a headlamp on) because I heard a noise over the raging stream I was next to. I look into the brush and see two eyeballs glowing back at me..... Needless to say I didn't move my head and began to breakdown my equipment by touch, keeping my eyes on their eyes... Well as we are having a staring contest, another set of eyes pop up next to the first set. So now I have two sets of glowing eyes watching me.... So I decided it wasn't worth taking everything apart right then and there, I just lightly threw my gear into my car, and got the hell outta dodge!!!!
15) Do you have a style?

I try too, but I'm not too sure.

And last but not least...what's on your wish list for camera gear?

I am going to buy a telescope so I can do some deep space type photography, nebulas, Andromeda Galaxy, star cluster type stuff.
The 5Ds for the resolution on my landscape stuff, uh and some L Series lenses... Uh, some decent lighting for portrait stuff and weddings.... Uh, oh yeah a nice ridiculously expensive medium format camera, those things aren't no joke..... I can't think of anything else....

So in a nutshell be careful, have fun, like my page, (insert link here) just kidding. And hell if you have questions or happen to see that I'm in your city or if you come through Albuquerque, hit me up! If I'm not at my job I'll be glad to take you out and give you a hands on with this stuff. It's my favorite thing to do. Well that and drink beer, and tell fartt jokes.

Tagged With: #astrophotography, #nighttimephotography, #photographerspotlight, #newmexico


Thanks so much, Cathy
Great interview! Joey, I can't wait to see what you can produce with a telescope - keep up the aawesome work!!!