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Nightfly

Orion's Sword on Film

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Orion's Sword

Messier42a_1024.jpg

Analog astrophotography has become a lost art. Here is a recent example to give a flavor of my continued work with what can be done with proper film. I hope you enjoy it.

Date: March 12, 2012

Equipment: Pentax Spotmatic II 35mm SLR with 300mm f/4 SMC Takumar wide open. Camera piggybacked on Meade 2080 SCT.

Tracking: Manually corrected via illuminated reticle eyepiece and drive corrector.

Sensor: Kodak GA 100-7 (Gold 100) ISO 100 chemical based sensor (one time use)

Exposure: 30 minutes (continuous)

Sky Quality: SQM 21.4 mags/sq arc sec. Mag limit 6.7 + at zenith

Location: Flanders Pond Observatory, East Sullivan, Maine

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That really is very nice. Lovely colour balance and detail. Shame about the satellite trail but it sorts of adds to it in a way.

I do commend you on doing it the old fashioned way, especially manually guiding. I would get through 10 rolls of film before I got a picture like that!

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really nice pic ;) i use all m42 thread lens on my dslr, and considering giving film ago. how do you make sure focus is perfect?

Edited by garethmob

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Thank you Terry. It helps to have a permanent setup. The polar alignment is near perfect and I just need to keep that guide star centered. It gives me much time to observe with the eyes and binoculars. Yea, the satellite kinda adds. I did not pick it up visually and am surprised it registered on the film. Thanks again.

Jim

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Thanks Gaz. The lenses are quite nice for 1973 technology. No ED glass, but a good Cooke triplet design in the 300mm. The focus is good at the infinity setting. Set it and shoot!

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thanks nightfly ;) would you say your camera is really good? as i was considering going to canon or nikon with another single lens but if that camera is good i might get one :)

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simply awesome so much detail and so vivid [i like the satelite trail as well ]

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thanks nightfly ;) would you say your camera is really good? as i was considering going to canon or nikon with another single lens but if that camera is good i might get one :)

I got the Pentax Spotmatic II camera used in 1984, it was old then! I have the 35, 50, and 300 Takumar's, all good lenses, some of the best in their time. You can pick up used Pentax bodies online and lenses are reasonable. The camera is totally manual, with only a small battery for the built in meter. They are very reliable cameras. Pentax glass has few dogs and have a good following.

The 300mm lens here was used wide open and is shown here full frame. Their is some residual Chromatic Aberration, but renders a fine image.

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That's wonderful! I especially like the "one time use" for the sensor ;)

/p

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Fantastic, my hat off to you ;)

I tried astrophotography with film and it wasn't easy - this was many years back... I also tried manually guiding with a handset and guide scope a few years back.

One night was enough :)

Lovely image - film always looks much better than digital IMO.

Ant

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WOW! Now that's really doing it the hard way ;) Great result though ;)

I have a Pentax Spotmatic (not the Mk 2)that I used for many years long ago. The lenses make good widefield lenses on the Canon 1100D with an adapter ring :p I used to do all my chemical processing and developing and printing including colour. I think I still have a Durst dichroic head enlarger somewhere in the junk shed :) I well remember many long hours in a hot dark room to produce just a handful of reasonable prints! Not really something I would wish to repeat. I love the convenience and flexability of digital photography and the removal of the 36 frames per film limitation. And the wait to see the results.

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Ah! On re-reading the above it's just occurred to me that a wait IS involved in AP while a few dozens or hundreds of subs are processed and stacked in DSS or Registax ;)

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Ah! On re-reading the above it's just occurred to me that a wait IS involved in AP while a few dozens or hundreds of subs are processed and stacked in DSS or Registax ;)

Well said Gina. It really is not that hard. Here is what I do.

1. Load film

2. Take images, until roll is complete (24 exposures in this case) which is about a weeks worth of shooting along with a few family pic's.

3. Send film out, get back in af few days.

4. Load negative into scanner, scan, post process (less than 1 hour) and post!

The process is different than digital workflow, but not a whole lot different. Waiting occurs at different moments. The negative is archival and exists in material form vs. electronic. The film actually contains photons captured by a chemical process and are "forever" locked onto the emulsion. I find that very cool.

Once the negative is scanned it can be processed like a digital captured image in PixInsight and Photoshop. Digital mavens like to make much of reciprocity failure. Yes, many films have this problem, but not all. My 30 minute exposure hear shows very clearly it can capture much in a similar amount of time taken with a digi-cam. Some films are even more sensitive, such as Kodak's E200. It can go very deep and can record well for exposures lasting hours.

For most work however, I do yield to digital. It is the present and the future of astrophotography. I love the results I see from other members here, but I shoot film out of tradition and necessity.

I can't buy digital gear, I cannot afford a new camera every few years, or buy an autoguider when I want one. What I lack in equipment I more than make up for in passion and skill in an art that I won't let die.

Thank you all for your kind comments here today.

Jim

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i wish there was a few members who did solely in film i had a thread on here about doing it but you have helped loads in this thread too jim! thanks soooo much your pics are an inspiration to the really "dark arts" of astrophotography!

one more question though if you dont mind, when you send the image off do you have it processed any perticular way? i hered about a gray background and hand processed not auto

thanks very much jim

gaz

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i wish there was a few members who did solely in film i had a thread on here about doing it but you have helped loads in this thread too jim! thanks soooo much your pics are an inspiration to the really "dark arts" of astrophotography!

one more question though if you dont mind, when you send the image off do you have it processed any perticular way? i hered about a gray background and hand processed not auto

thanks very much jim

gaz

I send to a professional lab and they do not run it through a machine. It is processed in a "dip and dunk" process. Only chemicals touch the film. It cost a little more, but worth it.

Films can be pushed (overdeveloped) to increase the overall ISO and contrast. I do not recommend this for color negative films, but I do for slide (transparency) films. I will be posting some work within a week that has used this method. I will post on this forum.

I'm glad you found the information useful. That was my hope.

Jim

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I think if I used film for AP I would do my own processing. I'm not familiar with that film - it's more years than I like to think of since I used film and it must have changed greatly since then. I used things like FP3, HP3 and even the dreadfully grainy HPS and Kodak Royal X (if I recall correctly). Then Ektachrome, and Agfa colour films (various) in reversal and negative forms. Do you use colour film or monochrome with a filter wheel? Processing of negative film is pretty simple and relatively quick. Colour negative takes more processes and reversal yet more. With DIY processing you could capture one night and process the film next day. You may even be able to scan it wet and save more time but that is risky as wet film is rather fragile and scratches easily.

TBH I find it quite fascinating using older style processes to achieve similar results to those obtained with modern equipment.

EDIT... Just read you last post and I see you do colour. ;) And I used to push the processing to increase speed too.

Edited by Gina

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I love seeing analog astrophotgraphy. I can't put my finger on what dynamic makes it so special. The closest analogy I can get is how Vinyl LPs were said to have a 'warmer' tone than CDs.

Edited by Beulah

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I'm overwhelmed by the number of responses today. Thank you all. I must confess that any succesful astrophotograph with film is dependent on sky quality. It would be exceedingly difficult in most areas of the populated world. I happen to live in eastern Maine, where we enjoy the darkest skies east of the Mississippi (USA). I rate my site on a bad night as Bortle class 3. I enjoy many class 2 nights throughout the year. The skies overhead are generally pristine.

I do not use filters of any kind for my work, although I am entertaining a Wratten 2E, very light yellow filter for the treatment of Chromatic Aberration to make stars more compact. This is similar to the Lumicon Minus-violet filter. A practical tool for use with older lenses.

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That's a lovely M42, very smooth, and the stars are excellent.

It's very nostalgic to see AP on film again. I did some colour slide stuff, always had it processed by a photo lab.

Mostly I did lunar and planetary mono on HP5, Kodak 2415, which was a very slow film, and requires hypering. Tri X was popular too.

I always enjoyed the anticipation of film imaging, but the DSO object guiding was demanding. 30 minute hand paddle guiding wore me down too.:).

Never got anywhere near the quality of David Malin. but who did? ;).

Perhaps your image will trigger a resurgence of Film media Astrophotography.

Ron.

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absolutely stunning, i'm really glad you posted this!

do you have a link to some more of your film astrophotography?

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Unlike digital, an analogue camera is as good as the film you put in and the lens you stick on the front I guess. Can you still buy film? ;)

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Unlike digital, an analogue camera is as good as the film you put in and the lens you stick on the front I guess. Can you still buy film? ;)

But of course. Lots and lots of film still exist! Hundreds of thousands still shoot with it, in many formats.:)

absolutely stunning, i'm really glad you posted this!

do you have a link to some more of your film astrophotography?

The links below are to my blog and Flickr site. If you have a flickr account add me as a contact and I will be sure to reciprocate. ;)

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Just popped on Amazon UK and they have lots of 35mm film both colour and monochrome. And still around the 3 or 4 pound mark that I remember paying yonks ago.

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Stunning work Jim.

We get so used so used to the look of the incredible digital images we see on here, that to see the stark contrast of a film image, really makes you look. For me the image feels

"more real", if that makes sense? The colours are superb.

Please post more!!

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