The Milky Way stretches across the night sky behind a rock arch in Arches National Park, Utah. Bret Webster uses the night skies of the national parks of his home state of Utah as his canvas to create images that highlight the relative insignificance of the Earth in the cosmos. Picture: BRET WEBSTER / BARCROFT USA
"I feel a deep affinity for the Utah desert and I have always been in awe when visiting the Arches National Park and Canyon Lands," said Bret, who has worked for 27 years as a rocket engineer and solid fuel propellant specialist for US defence firm Northrop Grumman. A long fragile arch in Arches National Park, Utah backdropped by the Milky Way galaxy
These photographs are all the more remarkable because Bret, 51, has only been taking pictures for three years. "I took my wife’s new Nikon camera three years ago and I have been a return visitor to the national parks of Utah I know where some of the best spots are," he said. The Milky Way galaxy is glimpsed above a slot canyon in the San Rafael Swell, Emery County, Utah
"For me, the pictures that manage to bring in the ancient American native rock paintings and the Milky Way are the most powerful," Bret said. "Some of these paintings are believed to have been made by an ancient people called the Western Archaic Culture and could be anywhere up to 8,000 years old. In my pictures, I like to make it clear that the view when these paintings were made would have been similar 8,000 years before, and will be similar 8,000 years hence. Our existence is just part of this huge Milky Way." The Holy Ghost Panel rock painting in the Great Gallery in Horseshoe Canyon, Canyonlands National Park in San Juan, Utah, with the Milky Way in the background
Bret enjoys the natural elements that remind him of the passage of geologic time and tries to bring this out in his pictures. "I see the universe at work all around in the canyons," said Bret. "The erosion of the rocks, the wind that blows through the canyons, and the wildlife that roam the plains. I am just trying to capture a little piece of the story."
The Milky Way over a collection of hoodoos in Goblin Valley National Park in Green River, Utah
"To see our place in the scheme of things is what makes my spine tingle when I take these pictures," he said. The Milky Way rises above the famous Landscape Arch with very clear air after a cold November storm in the Arches National Park, Utah