Photographer captures the night sky to raise awareness of light pollution
Photographer Imma Barrera is on a mission to document and protect America’s dark skies.
For the past few years, the New Jersey-based artist has been working toward her goal of capturing images of the Milky Way in various ecosystems across the country while raising awareness of light pollution and its effects.
Glacier National Park artist-in-residence from July 2021, Barrera has also served as artist-in-residence at Acadia and Capitol Reef National Parks and plans to spend a month in the program at the Grand Canyon this summer.
“I want to cover different types of ecosystems that are very different from each other with my work. I’ve been very lucky to get residencies in parks that are very different from each other,” Barrera said. “I choose the parks for their foreground. Of course, the Milky Way will look the same no matter where I photograph it from, but each park offers a different and unique foreground for my photos.
After publishing “The Stars, the Moon and the Sun (in the NJ/NY area)” in 2019, Barrera began her study of the night sky in the national parks of Joshua Tree National Park before being selected as an artist in residency at Capitol Reef. Utah National Park in 2019.
“Joshua Tree National Park, with its trees and cacti, is very different from Capitol Reef National Park, which covers more rock formations with their strata and geological history,” she said. “Acadia was important to me because it’s on the east coast and I was able to integrate the ocean. Glacier represents the Rocky Mountains with snow, ice and majestic peaks. They are all so different.
With a doctorate in molecular biology, Barrera worked in research before becoming a full-time photographer. Also a graduate of the New York Institute of Photography, Barrera has exhibited her photographs in several galleries around the world and won several awards.
“Photography has always been my passion. It’s a tool that I was able to use to document, there were infected cells before and now it’s the night sky,” she said. “My photography shows the things that are close to my heart. As a biologist, I care about the environment. I care about how pollution, any type of pollution, affects the environment and our planet. With my photography, I thought a good way to document the effects on light pollution was to photograph the night sky.
Barrera plans to publish a new book soon featuring her nighttime photographs of national parks and was recently featured online as part of the Glacier National Park Conservancy’s Glacier Conversations series.
Barrera says she hopes to do another presentation with the group later this year once she’s finished working on the rest of her imagery from her time at the park, including landscapes, wildlife, waterfalls and Moreover.
In the meantime, she will continue to focus on educating the public about light pollution while continuing to capture her iconic images of the night sky.
“I want to raise awareness about light pollution and what we can do to protect our night skies for future generations. I want to teach people how to photograph the night sky, but I also want to educate them about light pollution and what we can do about it,” she said. “It’s the pollution we can actually do something about and it’s easy and cheap.”
To learn more about Imma Barrera and her work, visit her website at www.imma.photo
Journalist Jeremy Weber can be reached at 406-758-4446 or [email protected]