John became interested in astrophotography soon after purchasing his first telescope in 2007 – a Celestron CPC 800.  After initially using the SCT telescope for observing, John discovered people were attaching cameras to their telescopes and taking photos of deep sky objects.  Intrigued, John attached his first DSLR (a Nikon D80) at prime focus and took a photograph of the Orion Nebula from his backyard in early 2008.  Loading the image file into Photoshop, John was blown away by what he saw.  John was instantly hooked!

For the last 6 years, John has constantly evolved his imaging and processing techniques, as well as his equipment.  Specializing in “Wide Field” images of sprawling complexes of dusty nebulosity, John’s workhorse rig has been the Takahashi FSQ 106EDX and SBIG STL-11000M camera, riding on the Takahashi EM200 mount.  Not content with the very wide field provided by this system, John began creating extreme wide field, high resolution mosaics, covering many degrees of the night sky.  As his enthusiasm grew for astrophotography, so did his arsenal of equipment, and in the summer of 2010 John built an observatory under the dark skies of the Texas Hill Country.

BuckSnort Observatory (named for the deer that constantly snort at him during the night) is a roll-off style observatory built by the guys at Backyard Observatories.  It contains 2 piers and is controllable via the internet.  It originally was equipped with John’s Paramount ME and TEC 140 refractor, but now contains an ever changing assortment of gear (compliments of a couple of buddies and Celestron’s beta program) that includes a Paramount MX, Planewave 12.5 CDK, Celestron 14 SCT, and a variety of cameras.  In addition to astrophotography, John also has a Watec video camera that scans nightly for meteors (using the UFOcapture software).

Despite having an observatory, John still enjoys traveling with his old workhorse rig (FSQ, EM200, and STL-11000m) to dark skies.  He regularly attends star parties at Okie-Tex, TSP, Eldorado, and the 3RF Astronomy Campus, as well as occasional trips to the Texas Astronomical Society’s dark site near Atoka, Oklahoma.  In addition, John is an avid DSLR shooter and enjoys traveling and shooting landscapes and night photography in and around the National and State Parks.

Over the years, John has acquired several notable achievements in astrophotography.  His work was selected for inclusion in the juried Starstruck exhibition which opened in 2012 at the Bates Museum.  He won first place in the Deep Sky category at the 2011 Starmus international astrophotography competition.  Several of his images have appeared on NASA’s APOD (search John Davis).  His images have appeared in both Beautiful Universe and Spectacular Universe (the year’s “best of” from both Sky & Telescope and Astronomy Magazine, respectively), as well as dozens of other photos in magazine issues in both the USA and Europe.

So far, the magic of the night sky has not worn off.  When the moon is away, John can still be found creeping around in dark places with cameras and big hunks of glass.  His work can be seen at his BuckSnort Observatory homepage  and large prints can be viewed at the Astronomics gallery in Norman, Oklahoma.

John will be the instructor for:
Making Photoshop Workflows Work For You