Doug Zubenel was born Doug Brown in Lima, Ohio, in 1957. For as long as he can remember, he has always seen the outdoors as a skyscape with land below it, rather than a landscape with sky above it. His fascination with the television series’ The Outer Limits and Star Trek in the early and mid 1960’s sowed the seeds for a defining moment at 3:00 am on the morning of November 17th, 1968, in southern California. Awakened by an inexplicable compulsion to go outside, he got dressed and went out into the backyard. Looking up at the stars, Doug saw a bright meteor. A few seconds later he saw another, then another, and yet another, and whispered to himself, “What is going on?!!” He became filled with joy - of an intensity he had never known - and decided to learn all he could about the night sky. Later he discovered that what he witnessed that amazing morning was the Leonid meteor shower, just two years after the incredible meteor storm of 1966.
He received his first telescope in March of 1969, and shortly thereafter saw the landmark film 2001: A Space Odyssey. That single experience changed the way he perceived the universe, and decided that he wanted to take pictures of the night sky to share with others on cloudy nights. His first images – albeit poor ones - were B&W star trails with a Kodak instamatic camera. Doug’s family moved back to his hometown of Delphos, Ohio, in 1971, and working with his father’s Argus C-3, he began getting better star trail photos. Discovering he could remove the lens from the Argus camera, the telescope became a 1000mm telephoto lens and he recorded the partial lunar eclipse of July 25-26, 1972. And, after learning he could use his new equatorial refractor to take hand-guided piggyback photos, he had images that would soon be published in astronomy magazines. With this method, Doug recorded the amazing Comet West in March of 1976.
In 1982, he created the intra-exposure focus and aperture shift (or Shift, for short), a technique that allows for the sharp recording of foreground, mid-ground and infinity objects during a single exposure.
Doug’s images have appeared in Modern Astronomy, Celestial Observer, Astronomy, Sky & Telescope, National Geographic Traveler and KANSAS! magazines, as well as the world wide web on WPOD, EPOD, APOD, Spaceweather, skyandtelescope.com and Atmospheric Optics, and has contributed articles to Sky & Telescope magazine. Since 1998, he has had an exhibit of fine-art photography entitled Messengers of Light hang in several regional galleries, which includes many skyscapes as well as weather and semi-surreal imagery. He also greatly enjoys public speaking, doing astrophotography workshops, and “performing” astronomical poetry. Doug loves sharing the night sky with the public, having had the dream of doing so since 1972, and facilitates the Kansas City Streetside Astronomers on the first Friday of every month, in addition to operating his OwlEye Mobile Observatory.
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