What began as a Christmas gift from his daughters has launched the former owner of O’Keeffe’s Mensland in Shepparton into the world of astrophotography.
“I often get asked if I have always been interested in astrophotography. The answer is no,” Mr O’Keeffe said.
The universe of stargazing opened to him when his daughters gifted him a telescope shortly after his retirement in 2020.
While Mr O’Keeffe’s interest in photography was long-standing, the night sky was a new frontier.
“I had always had an interest in traditional photography over the years and had good cameras,” he said.
But his curiosity didn’t stop at the gift’s possibilities.
“I was actually really pleased with the gift from the girls but thought it would be worth getting something a bit more advanced,” he said.
So, he dove into the intricacies of telescopes, ultimately unveiling the captivating realm of photographing nebulas and galaxies.
However, behind his images are hours of patience and persistence.
“I spend a lot of my time at night trying to get that perfect shot,” Mr O’Keeffe said.
“Sometimes into the early hours of the morning.
“But once the clouds come in, it’s over.”
His perseverance, however, doesn’t rely solely on waiting for celestial clarity.
“I have taught myself and researched astrophotography through YouTube and a range of forums around the world,” he said.
“It’s been really rewarding being able to progress to a level that is really advanced, and I keep learning as I go along.”
Mr O’Keeffe said that while many people had telescopes, few had delved deep enough to discover their full potential.
“It really is unique and there’s not many doing it,” he said.
And his work hasn’t gone unnoticed.
Mr O’Keeffe said his images had garnered attention from young and old alike.
“I have a great following and enjoy the feedback I receive from people on social media and in person,” he said.
One of his recent accomplishments is a photograph of the Rosette Nebula.
“The Rosette Nebula is 5000 light years away from Earth,” Mr O’Keeffe said.
“Light seen from this nebula today left Rosette before Egypt’s Great Pyramid of Giza was built.
“It took me 30 shots at five minutes each to get enough data to produce this photograph.”
As the stars continue to allure, and Mr O’Keeffe continues to astound, one thing is clear: retirement, for him, is merely a launchpad to the galaxies beyond.
To see more of Mr O’Keeffe’s astronomical photographs, you can visit his Instagram and Facebook pages.