Q&A Tyler Sichelski, January's PhotoPiller Of The Month

By Rafael Pons

Tyler Sichelski - January PhotoPIller of the Month

Everyday, everywhere, Mother Nature serves extremely beautiful moments the WORLD is too blind to see. These are hidden moments only us, the PhotoPillers, are capable to find and shoot.

Legendary moments like the one Tyler Sichelski captured near the Estrella Mountains (Arizona, USA):

'Path' by Tyler Sichelski - January PhotoPiller of the Month
'Path' by Tyler Sichelski - January PhotoPiller of the Month

Please, let me introduce you the first PhotoPiller of the Month: Tyler Sichelski!

Congratulations Tyler, you’ve been voted January's PhotoPiller of the Month, how does it feel?

I am really excited by it! PhotoPills is a company I really stand by, and I’m honored I was given the opportunity.

Tell us a little bit about you. What’s your story?

My name is Tyler Sichelski, and I am an astro/nature photographer based in Phoenix, Arizona. I got into photography about 10 years ago, while I was doing freelance graphic design. I ended up picking up a camera, and that’s when photography took over. I was hooked! In 2013, I moved from the light polluted skies of Illinois to Arizona. This was when I really started doing astrophotography, and landscape photography. I knew well before moving here that’s what I wanted to do. I started teaching astrophotography last year, and that has really been a rewarding venture for me. I really enjoy helping people achieve images they never thought possible. I hope to continue to push myself, never settle for mediocrity and see where this road takes me. I’m just enjoying the ride!

What’s your favourite beer?

Nothing beats an ice cold Stella Artois on a hot day in the desert.

What’s your favourite PhotoPills t-shirt?

It's neck and neck between the Gandalf and the DaeMoonized shirts.

Where are your headquarters?

Phoenix, Arizona.

Why photography?

Photography gives me a creative fulfillment that I can barely put into words. It is my extension to our world, and the universe. Not only through the lens, but with the interactions I have every day.

What’s the story behind your legendary shot?

One random summer’s night, my and my buddy Bryan just drove out in the middle of nowhere along this road near Phoenix. I was amazed how desolate and dark it was. We just camped out in the middle of the road for hours without seeing a single car. At this time, I was experimenting with photo stacking, so I decided to do some “test” shots looking south along the road. The post processing never looked right, and I re-processed it many times before getting this final version.

What PhotoPills tools did you use?

The Night AR tool! It is invaluable when looking for compositions like this.

What equipment and settings did you use?

This shot was taken on my Canon 6D with the Tokina 16-28mm f/2.8 FX lens. I had my Manfrotto tripod really low to the ground, so I could compose the night sky to dominate the top ⅔ of the frame. Using an intervalometer, I set up to take 10 shots at 25 sec back-to-back.

If you had to choose one lens which one would it be and why?

This is a tough question, as my photography world is changing a bit. For wide-field astrophotography though, I’d say the Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8. I rented that lens once with a adapter for my Canon, and I was blown away.

How would you describe your style?

What I’ve been recently known for is creating dramatic night sky landscape photo-merges. Defining my style personally, is a difficult thing because I feel I’m evolving.

How important is planning in your photography?

When doing astrophotography specifically, it all starts with planning! You will rarely see a organic astrophotography image without some kind of planning involved. Whether that's watching weather patterns, moon cycles, night sky maps, and using PhotoPills to line up perfect compositions... it’s all part of landscape astrophotography. I also like to scouting locations, doing a lot of work at the computer on Google Earth.

How important is editing in your final images?

Editing is where the magic happens. It’s very important. I am continuously learning, and refining my workflow. Post-processing is really where you start separating yourself from the pack.

What inspires you and gives you such a great ideas?

I find the natural beauty of Arizona really inspiring, and my knowledge in the field of astronomy. I’m also consistently inspired by my peers pushing the limits in photography.

A photographer that inspires you?

When first researching astrophotography, the photographer who really gave me that first inspiration was Mark Gee. After being able to interact with him on a more personal level, he’s just as inspiring as a person.

A book that has inspired you.

Carl Sagan’s Contact was the first book I ever read front to back, and it completely changed my view on life.

Say the first word that comes to your mouth and what you do, when bad weather ruins a photo you had previously planned months ago...

Ok... time to shoot some lightning.

Did you go to school to study photography?

I did take a couple photography courses in college back in 2002. I really enjoyed it then, but it didn’t really take over until many years later. I’ve been self taught since then, by the way of many incredible photography educators online.

Something you’re still learning?

I am always learning, and hope to never stop. Right now, I’m learning deepfield astrophotography with equatorial mounts, and longer focal lengths. It’s a whole other level, and it’s really exciting.

Can you briefly describe for the PhotoPillers your photographic workflow?

For me it starts in Lightroom with global adjustment, then I do the bulk of my work in Photoshop. The final touches and exports happen back in Lightroom. For some deepfield astro images, I use a really powerful program called PixInsight. For timelapse I start in After Effects, then end in Premiere Pro.

What would you love photographing before you die?

My top 5 Golden Bucket List items are:

  1. The Northern Lights in Alaska
  2. Witnessing/photographing the supernova of stars Betelgeuse or Antares
  3. New Zealand
  4. Photographing polar bears in the Arctic
  5. Photographing the wild horses on Sable Island
Are you a cat person or a dog person?

Dog, even though I love cats... I have a 6 year old pit bull named Kalli, and she’s my best buddy. Don’t know what I would do without her.

Are you a Mac or PC lover?

PC - I haven’t used a Mac in over 10 years. Not for any fanboy reasons either... just haven't.

If you could have dinner with anyone, who would it be?

Neil deGrasse Tyson.

Your favourite film (movie) of all time?

Contact, the movie, was just as life changing as the book was for me. That would have to be up at the top.

If any, what music do you listen when shooting?

I don’t tend to listen to things when I’m out shooting. I just enjoy nature. That being said, I’m on a big Odesza kick right now

First thing you would do if you won the lottery?

Pay off all debts, gear up, and travel the world.

What would you like to be doing in 5 years from now?

I really would like to be travelling and doing photography full time in 5 years. Teaching people night sky photography would definitely be involved.

Could you share one final piece of advice with the PhotoPillers?

Put in the time, and never stop learning... there is a wealth of information at your fingertips.

And the last question, if you had one wish...

Instead of being super basic with this question... I will give something really specific and honest. To have the wild horses of the American West, and all over the world left to be wild and free. This is a cause that has consumed my life over the past year, after witnessing the birth and first moments of a Arizona Salt River wild horse. It completely changed me. It’s simply incredible to witness them in person, in their natural state. Humanity quickly forgets how screwed we would have been in history without the horse, and to see the horror that becomes of the wild ones after human intervention, is completely unacceptable. Be sure to ask me if you have any questions on this.

Oh, one more... Where can we find you?

Reach me on my WebsiteFacebookInstagram, Tsu, TwitterFlickr500px.

You can also find me, as a contributor, on Lonely Speck.


Note: some links on this page are affiliate links. What does this mean? If you buy/rent using these links you're helping support us and it costs you nothing extra. Thank you for your support.

Archived in

Articles you may find interesting