Babak Tafreshi @babaktafreshi

National Geographic photographer posting true single exposures of the universe | The World at Night founder @twanight saving our night sky | Join me:

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Babak Tafreshi photos and videos


Moonlight on Granite. Sounds on for this one minute new timelapse video of a dramatic moonrise in the High Sierra, California. Accompanied with an original soundtrack “Celestial Body” by my friend @barbadbayat , composer & conductor performed by Prague Metropolitan Orchestra. #saveournightsky #timelapse #astrophotography #sierra @twanight

3 days ago

The full moon rising is always incredible to me, specially over the ocean. Here recorded in a timelapse sequence showing intense atmospheric refraction on the horizon that deforms the moon above the North Shore of Boston. Locals are walking on the coast, fishing, and some busy looking at their smartphones and missing a fantastic view behind them. The Earth companion for 4 billion years, we finally landed on this world 50 years ago today on July 20, 1969. #moon #boston #timelapse #astrophotography @twanight

2 weeks ago

Not the Alps, nor the Smoky Mountains, this is in northern Iran. Last week UNESCO announced 29 new World Heritage Sites and one is Hyrcanian forests, stretching 850 km along the southern coast of the Caspian Sea where the humidity is blocked by massive Alborz mountain range. The unique forests are originated 25 to 50 million years ago but are shrinking fast due to human impact and poor management. Now there is hope with UNESCO designation. The Caspian Tiger once roamed the area, now extinct. Other large mammals here are Persian Leopard, lynx, brown bear, wild boar, wolf, golden jackal, jungle cat, badger, and otter. Photographed in Oct 1999. ⁣ ⁣ #hyrcanianforest #worldheritage #dohezar #iran

4 weeks ago

Surrounded by black volcanic lava formations in northern Iceland a sudden outburst of rapidly moving aurora borealis breaks into this September midnight. I felt like the elements of a Saga story were about to come alive, rocks resembling trolls, stars, and the northern lights. This lava field near the Mývatn Area is left from a volcanic eruption 2300 years ago, long before the first Norsemen explorers arrived to this land. ⁣ ⁣Both of my March & September 2020 Iceland Aurora PhotoTours are just announced. Learn more: (active link in my profile ). ⁣ ⁣ #babakworkshops #saveournightsky #aurora #iceland @twanight

4 weeks ago

Another photograph of my short visit to Prague. The New Moon and the magnificent World Heritage of Praha on this June 5 evening. ⁣ ⁣ #prague #worldheritage #newmoon #twanight @natgeoimagecollection @twanight

4 weeks ago

Since 2013 I’m doing an annual week-long photo workshop in La Palma, Canary Islands, the stargazing paradise of Europe. The May 2020 edition of Astromaster class and this unique photo-tour is now open to register on (link in my profile ). ⁣ ⁣Please note we take less than 15 participants. The list fills quickly. If you have attended Astromaster before please comment, love to hear back from you. ⁣ ⁣Photographed here in a single 20 seconds exposure on the edge of La Palma massive caldera at 2300-meter (7500 ft ) high is science communicator @saevarhb , a good friend of mine from Iceland. His movement after the soft flash on his face created this ghostly appearance adding a scifi feeling to the image. ⁣ ⁣⁣ #saveournightsky #babakworkshops #astrophotography #nightphotography #canaryislands #twanight @natgeoimagecollection @twanight

5 weeks ago

For billions of stars with planets in our galaxy, there are endless possibilities of other worlds habitable to some sort of life. This singe-exposure photograph of 20 seconds is from a couple of nights ago, far from light pollution in Mono Lake looking at a little island of tufa. These limestone towers are formed by the precipitation of carbonate minerals in water. Mono Lake has no outlet and trapped salt made the lake very alkaline and salty. But the lake has an unusually productive ecosystem including a strange bacteria that was deeply analyzed by astrobiologist studying possibility of life in other worlds and extreme conditions. ⁣ ⁣I’m on the last day of the 2019 California Nightscapes photo workshop. Contact me (email in the profile ) to be notified of my next programs around the world. ⁣ ⁣⁣⁣ #saveournightsky #babakworkshops #twanight #astrophotography @natgeoimagecollection @twanight

last month

A beautiful meteor, last night at moonrise above the otherworldly landscape of Mono Lake, California. On any dark night, a consistent observer may see a meteor every 10-15 minutes on average, specially towards morning. The rate is more at meteor showers. The sporadic meteors like this are formed by random wandering meteoroids, little rocks or ice that enter the earth’s atmosphere at very high speeds, up to 160,000 mph (260,000 km/h ). ⁣ ⁣The second night of the 2019 California Nightscapes photo workshop. Learn more about these programs on or contact me (email in the profile ) to be notified of the next workshops.⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ #saveournightsky #babakworkshops #twanight #astrophotography @natgeoimagecollection @twanight

last month

Last night on June 19 I was standing at the shore of a 10,000 ft (3050 m ) high lake in the Sierra Nevada, California. A surreal view was emerging as the rising moon hit the rugged peaks. Photographed here is a long-exposure through a 500mm telephoto lens revealing startrails (Earth rotation ). Together with @mikeshawphotography we are ready to launch the 2019 California Nightscapes photo workshop today in Bishop. Learn more about these programs on or contact me (email in the profile ) to be notified of the next workshops.⁣ ⁣ #saveournightsky #twanight #sierra #astrophotography

last month

Sound on, enjoy a part of this original piece called Ethereal on one of my photos by Iranian master composer @karenhomayounfar , my good friend who wrote fantastic movie soundtracks. ⁣ ⁣The photo is from 2007 Mars opposition (closest approach to the Earth ), shining above Taftan double volcano in southeast Iran. ⁣ ⁣ #taftan #mars #soundtrack #twanight #saveournightsky #karenhomayounfar

last month

New Moon sets in the sky of Prague in this June 5 evening. On the top of the hill, overlooking the city, is the Prague Castle and its cathedral. I’m on a quick visit to the magnificent World Heritages of Praha ( #prague ). ⁣ ⁣Enjoy a phone wallpaper of this in the highlighted stor “ Prague”. Hold your finger on the image until the icons disappear, then screenshot and save the fullscreen view. ⁣ Photographed with #Sigma135mmart lens. ⁣ #worldheritage #newmoon #twanight @natgeoimagecollection @twanight @sigmaphoto

last month

On a quick visit to Prague. This is an iPhone shot from last evening walking on the iconic Charles Bridge. The city is home to magnificent World Heritages. #prague #worldheritage #czechrepublic

last month

Nothing like a night under natural starry sky unspoiled by light pollution. I’m at my annual Astromaster class in La Palma, Canary Islands. This photo of me during one of the sessions was photographed by participant @ale lavatelli from Milan. I have a group of 13 from 8 nations this year. Next Astromaster will be in May 2020. Contact me if you are interested. It will be announced soon on ⁣ ⁣ #babakworkshops #saveournightsky #astromaster #twanight #astrophotography

last month

I’m often asked here about my equipment and occasionally post about them. I hope you find this useful. Very critical to any digital photographer is a fast, reliable, die-hard portable data storage. The memory cards and the hard drive in your camera bag are the treasure keeper and I’m extremely happy with Angelbird @angelbirdmedia SSD drives from Austria. These amazingly compact ultrafast disks (512GB to 4TB ) have saved me a lot of time and kept the treasure safe in most extreme conditions. I came to idea of using SSDs when on a trip to observatories in Chilean Andes one of the spinning hard-disk broke due to low air pressure in the high altitude (at 10,000ft or 3000m ). That was a painful loss that led me to Angelbird SSDs. I would never risk again using cheaply made regular drives that takes me several times longer to copy files. ⁣ ⁣Photographed here on an imaging expedition in the Atacama Desert is my colleague @yuribeletsky transferring files to @angelbirdmedia SSDs under the glorious southern sky. In the background team member @petrhoralek prepares his camera. ⁣ ⁣ #angelbirdmedia

May 2019

A Countryside Night. Estimated 55% of human population live in urban areas, where the night is often dominated by our artificial lights and this view of the Milky Way is gone, unless you travel far enough from the light pollution. On this October evening near the White Mountains in New England, three hours north of Boston, the Galaxy was merging out of twilight with the passing clouds lit by yellow sodium streetlights of a nearby town. Learn more about the values of natural night environment and how to preserve it on our new @natgeo web story “Light pollution is getting worse, and Earth is paying the price”. Google natgeo light pollution for the link. ⁣ ⁣ #saveournightsky #darkskies #lightpollution #newengland #milkyway @natgeoimagecollection @idadarksky @twanight ⁣ ⁣

May 2019

Standing on the edge of Wadi Ghul, also known as Oman’s Grand Canyon. On this midnight of March 2016 the moonlight was gently shining on the massive 1000-meter deep feature made by erosion. I was in Jebel Shams area, the highest mountain in the country, where you reach to top of the canyon. #nightphotography #oman #jebelshams #canyon @natgeoimagecollection

May 2019

There are endless wonders and adventures for those who stay awake to experience the night. Like the explorers of the unseen, stargazers enjoy the view that most people miss while sleeping or spending nights under grey star-free skies of the cities. Photographed last summer on a high Sierra lake, at 3200 m (10,500 ft ) in California. I will return to the area June 20-23 for the annual Nightscapes Photo Workshop with @mikeshawphotography You are welcome to join. Learn more on (or follow the link in my profile ). ⁣ ⁣ #saveournightsky #babakworkshops #sierranevada #highsierra @twanight @natgeoimagecollection

May 2019

Following my previous post and stories on the rarely captured Red Sprite phenomenon this is a timelapse video of what I experienced near midnight on May 2 in West Texas. An atmospheric puzzle, they are large-scale electrical discharges occurring in clusters above the troposphere, about 50 to 90 kilometers (31–56 miles ) high. The video briefly freezes on the sprites moments so you can better see them, therefore they appear similar to the length of time visible in real time but the time between them is ~100 times faster in timelapse otherwise this video would be one hour long! To the naked eye there is no color. They appear as a feature-less flashing patch of grey and most people would miss them unless looking for them patiently. Here the ultrasharp Sigma Art 40mm lens I used at wide open aperture of 1.4 well resolved the details on Nikon D810A camera at high ISO. The video is cropped for IG to give you a closer look. The stunning sprite of the previous post was made with a Sigma 135mm f1.8 telephoto. You find the same sprite near the middle of this timelapose. Soundtrack is a courtesy of @alirainimusic , from their Fragmented Future project. #redsprites #atmospheric #timelapse #twanight @twanight @sigmaphoto

May 2019

Last few days I was at Texas Star Party to give a talk. Photographed here is a rarely captured phenomenon known as Red Sprite. It has been an atmospheric science puzzle for a long time. These large-scale electrical discharges occur high above thunderstorm clouds and are challenging to capture as they flashes in the sky for a fraction of a second and much fainter than a lightning. The success key to capture the sprites is clear sky and thunderstorm on the horizon at 100-300 km away which was exactly my condition a few nights ago. #redsprites #atmospheric #nightphotography #texasstarparty @natgeoimagecollection @twanight

May 2019

The last bit of dusk colors over the ocean and moonlight shining on this 2000-meter (6000 ft ) high wonderland of La Palma, Canary Islands. Single exposure night photographs like this are very much dependent on timing, understand the ambient light, and the camera’s dynamic range. These full blooming rare giant flowers look otherworldly. They are Echium wildpretii and locally called Tajinaste in Spanish. These 1-3 meters tall plants became almost extinct a few decades ago on this island, by rabbits and human, but now preserved and growing in number. I will return to La Palma May 26 on my annual week-long Astromaster photo workshop during the peak season of these flowers and the rising Milky Way. A medical issue caused one cancellation this week and we have one open spot if someone like to join last-minute. See:⁣ ⁣ ⁣ ⁣or click profile link and proceed to workshops. ⁣ #saveournightsky #babakworkshops #echium #astrophotography #nightphotography #canaryislands @natgeoimagecollection @twanight

April 2019

In the remote Racetrack Playa of Death Valley National Park, California, I was standing next to one of the mysterious Sailing Stones, looking up to Sirius, the brightest star of the Earth night sky, and constellation Orion. The faint glow on the horizon is Los Angeles from 190 miles (300 km ) away! These moving rocks are a geological phenomenon. They naturally move, up to a mile or two, along this high altitude smooth valley floor on very thin night-time surface ice sheets that are driven by wind. ⁣ ⁣ #saveournightsky #deathvalley #twanight @natgeoimagecollection

April 2019

Stunning southern hemisphere view of the Milky Way from the 5000 meters (16,000 ft ) high ALMA observatory, on Chilean Andes. I visited ALMA several times on assignment for @esoastronomy Long overnight photography here is not easy with the harsh environment and bone-freezing temperature. This array of 66 movable large radio dishes can work together as a giant single telescope that expands in the area to zoom into an object or clusters in a pack to reveal fainter targets. Using an even much larger radio telescope array, in size of our planet, On April 10 astronomers revealed the first-ever image of a black hole, a breakthrough in science that I’m sure most of you have heard of it. They synched ALMA with several other telescopes across the globe to reveal the black hole in the heart of a massive galaxy some 50 million light years away. Check for the image and the project ongoing discoveries. ⁣ ⁣ #twanight #science #astronomy #exploration @natgeoimagecollection @twanight ⁣ ⁣

April 2019

Painted by nature, and a fishing boat! Spend some moments to read this and explore the various elements in this unusual “real” photograph, a time-exposure full-circle fisheye image of northern lights and star trails above the Atlantic Ocean, photographed on the western coast of Iceland. A passing fishing boat created the trail on the ocean. A meteor and a satellite are also captured in the shot. Star trails, created by the Earth rotation during the half-hour exposure, appear around the north celestial pole, marked by the north star Polaris which stand near overhead in this far north 65 degrees latitude. ⁣ ⁣ #twanight #fisheye #auroraborealis #northernlights #longexposure @twanight @natgeoimagecollection

April 2019

I very rarely post my daytime or portrait photos here except for occasions like this. Since my March 28 post about Iran disastrous floods, the land I was born and lived for 30 years, the situation has not improved and affected thousands of children and their families who have lost everything specially in Golestan province near Caspian Sea, Lorestan in Zagros Mountains, and Khuzestan in the southwest plain. The US sanctions in one side and awfully poor leadership of Iranian governors on the other side made the situation worse. You can help by sharing the story or donating to organizations which are directly involved in supporting: Moms Against Poverty in the US and the Red Cross in a number of countries across Europe who started sending donations to Iranian Red Crescent ( ) which is directly active in the field. ⁣ ⁣The beautiful nomad girl of Zagros Mountains in this image is photographed 15 years ago on film, on a road trip to southwest Iran. ⁣ ⁣ #iranfloods #lorestan #khuzestan #golestan

April 2019

On a quick trip, this was last evening in Washington DC with the fireworks for Cherry Blossoms Festival, photographed above Jefferson Memorial and Tidal Basin. More than 1.5 million visitors descend upon the U.S. capital each year to admire the 3,000-plus blossomed trees which were first planted in 1912. A gift of friendship from the People of Japan the trees are from Yokohama. #washingtondc # #cherryblossom #nightphotography @natgeoimagecollection

April 2019

Today our feature story about light pollution is published on @natgeo website. “Our nights are getting brighter, and Earth is paying the price.” The link is in my profile and today story. Special thanks to our author, photo editors, my colleague photographer @oshindzakarian , and @deathvalleynps where some of the story is photographed. Here standing under an ocean of stars in a high altitude vista of Death Valley the glow of Las Vegas is still boldly visible, disturbing the natural night environment from 90 miles away. #saveournightsky #starstruck #deathvalley #lightpollution @natgeoimagecollection @twanight @death_valley_knight

April 2019

Long exposure images, revealing star trails, are unique visuals to remind us not only the non-stop rotation of the planet, also the timeless sky above the changing Earth. Interested to learn how to photograph these, join me on a webinar tomorrow April 2 at 1pm ET (10am PT, 5pm GMT ). (or follow my profile link ) If you aren’t available for the live presentation, the recorded version will be delivered to all registered participants. We will also answer any question. Organized by Sky&Telescope, the world’s most respected astronomy magazine, I’ve started these webinars 3 years ago. They answer the numerous questions I receive on how to photograph the night sky. #astrophotography #astronomy #nightphotography #longexposure #webinar #twanight #startrails #babakworkshops

March 2019

New Moon setting in a red dusk of California. These rugged peaks of the Sierra Nevada mountains are known as Minarets, reaching over 12000 ft. I photographed this in August when the wildfires effected most of the area with unusual red-orange twilights due to smoky air. I will return to the area in June for the 2019 California Nightscapes photo workshop. Learn more on … #twanight #sierranevada #newmoon #astrophotography #nightsky @natgeoimagecollection

March 2019

Shiraz, the city of poets, love, and history in Iran was hit by flash floods on March 25 which took at least 21 lives. I’ve been to Shiraz many times. This was a summer evening of 2010 in the tomb of Hafez, one of the most influential Persian poets of all time. Unusual heavy rains in the last few days made flood warning in most of Iran and caused massive damage to Golestan province near the Caspian Sea. #shiraz #iranfloods #hafez

March 2019

A starry night of lake in Dolomites, a spectacular part of Alps in northern Italy. The summer Milky Way appears above Latemar Mountain, with bright star Altair near the top. Yellow sodium light of a town behind the range reflects from the passing clouds. Photographed in 2012. #saveournightsky #nightphotography #astrophotography #milkyway #dolomites #twanight @twanight @natgeoimagecollection

March 2019

My passion to astronomy and night sky merged with archaeology when I was a teenager, due to my best friend Shahrokh Razmjou who is now a leading researcher on Achaemenid empire. Also known as the First Persian Empire it dates back to about 2500 year ago. Here in this moonlit night of Southern Iran near Shiraz and Persepolis, stars of Cassiopeia appear above the cross shaped tombs of these ancient kings which are built into a cliff 60 meters high. Photographed in 2007 … #nightphotography #achaemenid #shiraz #twanight @twanight @natgeoimagecollection

March 2019

A Northern Fulmar flies against the iconic Skogafoss waterfall during my March photo workshop in Iceland. Enjoy a phone wallpaper of this on today story ... #fulmar #birds #waterfall #babakworkshops @natgeoimagecollection

March 2019

Telephoto view of moonlit starry sky and thin rays of aurora borealis, a few nights ago on my March photo tour in Iceland. This 4-second photograph is taken with one of my favorite lenses, Sigma Art 105mm f1.4 @sigmaphoto , amazingly sharp across the entire field of view at wide open aperture. The recent two posts from Iceland were also taken with this lens. It’s heavy but a master piece of quality and light collecting power. Photographed here is the Hyades star cluster, easily visible to naked eyes from both hemispheres, with its unique V-shape in the sky, the face of Taurus, the Bull, and bright star Aldebaran marking one of the eyes. At 150 light years away it’s one of the closest star clusters to Earth. #babakworkshops #aurora #sigma105mmart #hyades #taurus #astrophotography @natgeoimagecollection

March 2019

A beautiful evening. The northern lights in twilight. A couple of nights ago in Keflavik, the end of my March aurora photo workshop in Iceland. Next one in September. To participants of my classes and photo tours, we started a new hashtag for images taken on these programs: #babakworkshops and for the night sky and light pollution related photos: #saveournightsky @natgeoimagecollection @twanight

March 2019

A few nights ago at 64 degrees north in Iceland. Above the glow of a nearby town, faint but elegant rays of aurora borealis appear in this telephoto view. Pleiades or the Seven Sisters star cluster is at the top where the sky becomes dark and free of light pollution. On my March aurora photo tour. Learn more about these programs on @twanight #twanight #nightphotography #auroraborealis #pleiades @natgeoimagecollection

March 2019

Back to iceland for my March aurora photo tour. Here a beautiful 22-degree solar halo (atmospheric phenomenon ) appears above one of the participants. Learn more about these programs on

March 2019

A few nights ago in Los Angeles. I’m on a @natgeo assignment to document the impact of artificial lights and the value of natural nights for human and other species. Appears here is the beautiful Griffith Observatory, home to one of the world’s finest planetariums. But beyond that what you see is the grey star-free sky caused by light pollution. While we need light for urban life, in many cases our environment is overlit and intense bright lights do not help with safety but create very dark shadows and also glares, causing accidents. Light pollution also affects Wildlife, Health, Energy, and Heritage … #saveournightsky #twanight #lightpollution #losangeles @twanight @natgeoimagecollection

March 2019

Finally, a dark starry sky, last night on a 5500ft (1670m ) viewing point in Death Valley National Park @deathvalleynps As we moved away from light pollution of LA and also far enough from Las Vegas, this is how a natural night looks like to our eyes. The elongated cone-shape natural glow is called Zodiacal Light, only visible in dark skies after dusk or before dawn, created by sunlight reflecting from asteroid dust in the Solar System. Down on Earth you are looking at a salt flat which marks the lowest point in the entire North America, 280ft (85m ) under the sea level! I’m on a National Geographic assignment to document the impact of artificial lights and the value of natural nights. Traveling for this project with colleague @twanight photographer @oshindzakarian#saveournightsky #twanight #lightpollution #zodiacallight #badwaterbasin #deathvalley @natgeoimagecollection

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