Canberra resident Ari Rex won first place in the professional astrophotography category at the delayed 2019 International Photography Awards with a photo taken in the Yass Valley.

Ari, originally from Albania, took the shot at a back road near Yass in August 2018 after three months of planning and preparation to make his dream image a reality naming it “Destiny”.

He said there are a lot of elements that need to come together to make the shot possible like the weather, and the position of the Milky Way with just the right amount of intensity from the moonlight to naturally light the foreground.

“The reason it stays this close to my heart is because it’s very hard to capture that quality of the Milky Way with the moon in it,” Ari said. “The moonlight has to be a certain intensity, not too bright and the right location, so not too close to the Milky Way core which is the upper part of that image.”

“We’re talking about capturing ancient light,” he said. “This light is quite dim to the naked eye.”

Ari said the best technique for viewing the Milky Way with the naked eye is letting your eyes adjust to the darkness and not looking at any bright artificial lights like your phone screen.

And he says thanks to digital camera’s long exposure capabilities and tripods they are able to record more light, which is where you get this high-quality night time image.

Ari has been a professional photographer since 2014 and has specialised in astrophotography for nearly as long.

Destiny by Ari Rex

“Since I was little I was very attracted to the night sky,” he said. “My father used to take us hiking in remote areas back in Albania and photography was something that always fascinated me.”

“So my love for nature and night photography has allowed me to get into the [astrophotography] genre and especially when I came to Canberra, I found the perfect conditions.”

Canberra and surrounds offer ideal conditions for night photography due to its altitude sitting nearly 600 meters above sea level and its dry quality of air. Ari added that this time of year in winter is good for astrophotography because of the often clearer skies.

“The higher you go, the cleaner the air becomes and that makes it possible to get crisp pictures of the Milky Way.”

Ari offers several photography workshops including astrophotography suited for a range of experiences from beginners to experienced photographers.

The spots are limited and more information can be found at

By Brianna O’Rourke