The People Behind the Places: Comfort in the night skies

The People Behind the Places: Comfort in the night skies
This photo of the Milky Way taken from southern Utah appeared in The Times Travel section's Sept. 21, 2014, reader photos issue. (Chuck Claude)

Charles Claude, an avid rock climber, suffered a serious spinal injury in a 2013 mountain biking accident. He has recovered fully, but the incident forced him to slow down and look more closely at the world around him. He used photography to capture the beauty he saw.

It has become a form of meditation for him. "Photography has become my way of calming my mind," he said.


He finds a special serenity in the night skies. Many of the images Claude has shared with the Times Travel section have been of light trails or the Milky Way, including the southern Utah image we featured in our Sept. 21 reader photos issue.

Why do you travel? When did you start? 

I first started to travel to enjoy the beauty and wonder of being in and climbing mountains. As I matured, I started to enjoy the people and the cultures that I met along the way as much as the experiences.

What do you take with you?

My camera and tripod, and a few filters such as neutral density and graduated neutral density filters. I find that the moments I am without a tripod are the moments I would like it the most.

What's your most memorable photo?

That can't be answered. Each image is a moment in time, each with their own stories and experiences.

What's your best trip?

One of my best trips was an attempt to solo a mountain in the Himalayas. Even though I failed at the climb, the beauty of the place and the local people completely made the trip. A very different trip is equally memorable and that was on my way to adopt a young girl from Ethiopia. I had a flight that went through Istanbul and spent a few days there, spending time in the old city, seeing the Blue Mosque at sunset and eating food that was absolutely delicious. It became my second favorite city in Europe.

What's your next trip?

I would like to go back to Peru to attempt some mountains I failed at in my youth.

"The People Behind the Places" is an occasional series that profiles aspiring photographers and readers whose photography has caught our eye. If you're interested in sharing your work with us, visit our Flickr page. You can also email