Cultural Trust Blog: Bill Snyder Profile

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Bill Snyder creates his images by peering into a realm that no human can see with the naked eye. An amateur astronomer, Snyder is fascinated by the universe and cosmos spinning around us. He says, ‘It was hard to explain what I could see through my telescope, so I started taking pictures to show people what was out there.’

Astrophotography is a laborious process that takes many hours, sometimes months, to create. He works with a high-tech camera that is mounted on his telescope and specialized software that tracks objects or phenomena in the solar system and records the image. Each image is time-lapsed and shot through specific filters and stacked by the software. One image of a faraway nebula is actually a composite photograph, sometimes upwards of 40 images are overlaid upon one another. These images are essentially black and white before Snyder adds the color in Photoshop. The results are vividly colored photographs of the universe beyond our small planet.

Snyder plans out each image before he sets out to shoot the night sky. Researching other images, such as the famous space photographs of the Hubble telescope, he forms an idea of what composition he would like from the universe.

Although his home base is in Connellsville, Snyder works with telescopes all around the world. He refers to this as ‘remote imaging,’ where he controls the telescopes via the Internet. The composition of his images are dependent on a variety of factors:  the time of year, the weather, and where objects are in the sky. It can take months to create an image, but time can be short when the universe is constantly moving and shifting as the earth rotates.

Always a creative person, Snyder’s background is not in art or photography, or even science. He started shooting these images because of his passion for astronomy. It was when he started to print them, that he discovered his artistic side when it came to color correction and how they appear on paper as opposed to on the computer screen. In print, the images do appear slightly different than they do online, but the effect is startling. Some images appear 3-dimensional when viewed in print, the cosmos shifting subtly depending on where you stand when viewing it.

Snyder says that he never expected to become an artist, but emphatically believes that astrophotography is indeed a form of art like any other. This type of astrophotography is not used for scientific data as much as it is presented for aesthetic value. Despite this, the astrophotography is both educational and beautiful. Snyder allows us a glimpse into the mysteries of the cosmos, things that are real and yet intangible and stunning to behold.

Bill Snyder will be at this year’s Dollar Bank Three Rivers Arts Festival from Wednesday, June 12 – Sunday June 16 at booth #76 in the Artist’s Market.

For more information and to order prints, please visit his website at


Originally posted June 4, 2013 by Emily O’Donnell at

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