Join professional photographer John Ashley for a visual feast, as he time travels with Charlie Russell through the past 135 years. “The Nature of Night, What’s Been Lost and What’s Been Found” celebrates Montana’s naturally-dark night skies while looking at the growth of artificial light at night, back to 1880 when Montana’s first light bulb began to glow in a Butte mine shaft. John is the author of “Glacier National Park After Dark,” the culmination of nearly three decades of night time photography in Montana’s most famous wilderness.
Our natural day/night relationship with light has shifted dramatically due to the growth of artificial lighting at night. Today three out of four of the world’s children cannot see the Milky Way from where they live due to light pollution. Fortunately, people took notice and the night sky preservation movement was born. The first step towards bringing back the night sky is realizing what’s been lost. Much of Montana still harbors dark, star-filled skies. John’s nighttime photographs remind us of what’s at stake: dancing northern lights, awe-inspiring comets, the shimmering arc of the Milky Way, and much more. Natural darkness is our shared heritage that our children’s children deserve to inherit.
In 1977, John’s grandmother gave him $200 to start his college fund. Instead, John used the money to buy his first 35mm camera, and then he used the camera to put himself through college. He earned a biology degree from the University of Montana, and became an award-winning photojournalist at newspapers in Florida and Montana. But the frantic, deadline-driven lifestyle lost out to the more humble call of the natural world. Along this path, John worked as a field biologist for many years, working to conserve California Condors, Bald Eagles, and his favorite—Harlequin Ducks.
John completed the circle by combining both of his passions—photography and conservation—in the form of fine art photography. Through his lens, John hopes to remind you of the natural beauty and humor that is inherent in wild places and wild critters. He lives with his wife and business partner, Tracy, and their two dogs at the end of the road, just a little ways past the “town” of Kila, in northwestern Montana.