1986: The universe

I was only 5 years old, but I remember perfectly well being playing in the Maria Madre square (Catarroja) and looking up to see Halley’s comet (that phenomenon everyone was talking about). 

And there it was.

I didn’t quite understand what it was, but the fact is that it gave me a very special feeling. I had just realized that the universe extended far beyond my village.

From that moment on, my curiosity for space was growing.

It’s as if that evening Halley’s comet had planted in me a seed of illusion for everything related to the universe.

And that seed hasn’t stopped growing since then.

Years after that, while researching more about comets, I discovered that Halley passes close to Earth every 75 years.

We may see each other again, I thought.

My name is Toni Gutiérrez and that’s how all this started.

2002: Photography

Some time later, during my 4th year of university, I discovered what would become my great passion: photography.

And it was in a class (who knew). Moreover, it had nothing to do with anything artistic: it was about programming. Well, about programming for image processing.

I loved it so much that from that moment on I knew exactly what I wanted to do in the future (and I did).

You could say that my relationship with photography has progressed in the opposite way to how it usually is:

  1. I became fascinated with image processing.
  2. I learned technical knowledge about optics, cameras and lighting systems.
  3. I ended up falling in love with the artistic side of photography.

2017: The idea

After some complicated years, in which I completely gave up photography, I decided to change the course of my life and, among other things, I started to give photography the space it deserved.

It was a year of important changes.

A turning point in my life.

And then I was clear about an idea that had been inside me for a long time:

Could I combine my passion for image processing with my fascination for the universe to create a tool that would help other photographers?

And the answer was:

I don't know, but I want to try.

So with this idea in mind I spent 2 years going out to take the most difficult pictures I could think of.

I wanted to push to the limit the main problems that nightscape photographers suffer and among many other crazy things I came up with:

  • Going to shoot Milky Ways in places with extreme light pollution (even in a big city like Valencia).
  • Going to take pictures of meteor showers with skies that were not clear and where you could hardly see the stars.
  • Going out to take pictures of the Milky Way with a full moon or in the industrial area of my village (full of street lamps).
  • Making exposures of many, many hours to explore the limits of thermal noise (I even took a 4-hour selfie while sleeping).
  • Trying a lot of things that a priori didn’t make sense (like using a 10-stop ND filter overnight).

I spent more than 2 years like that.

But in each one of those “crazy things” I always learned something.

I wanted to fully understand all the problems related to landscape astrophotography and the best way to do that was to take them to the extreme.

2020: Nebulb

August 1st, 2020, I write the first line of code of the Nebulb software. The goal to be achieved is really ambitious.

November 3rd, 2022 (at the time of writing this), Nebulb has far surpassed all the goals initially set (and many more that I’ve been setting for myself). There are 258,642 lines of code.

Now I look back and it seems incredible how far I’ve come.

But I haven’t walked alone.

No, I couldn’t have written these lines walking alone.

That’s why I want to thank Candela, Marc and Biel from the bottom of my heart for having supported me and put up with me unconditionally during all this time. I know that on many occasions it has not exactly been easy, but you’ve always been there.

I love you.

2023…

Something inside me tells me that I will see Halley’s Comet again.

Yes, I think we will see each other again and when that happens I want to give it a present.

It did it to me, making me look up and discover the wonders hidden beyond our atmosphere.

It gave me the best gift in the world: illusion.

Now it’s my turn.

I feel indebted.

I feel the need to try to transmit the same illusion that it gave me.

I would like to see more and more photographers going out to capture the wonders of the nightscape.

That they could free themselves from the problems and difficulties that have always surrounded astrophotography.

That they enjoyed the night, almost completely forgetting about the technical aspects.

That they came back home happy with the pictures they took.

And that by showing them to their loved ones a little piece of that illusion, admiration and respect for the night sky is transmitted to them.

From parents to children, from children to parents, between couples, between friends, between strangers…

This is my little present.

Toni

PS: If you would also like this to happen…