Have you considered using a tripod and doing long exposures (30 mins - an hour?) on Velvia? Slide film is great for night-time shots. The only real downside is waiting around for an hour or so during the exposure. It's just a thought.
That is not an option for the northern lights.....I will end up with a light smear on the sky instead of capturing the dynamics of the aurora....
Originally Posted by kevs
But for traditional night sky shots, yes......velvia would be lovely.
Found this on Flickr - Northern Lights on Slide Film. Perhaps e-mailing him, he can tell you what he used.
Beware the use of Portra 400 for this subject matter, being a portrait film, and also designed to work under mixed lighting (think, neutralizes "color casts"), you may very well end up with washed out, muted, "auto white balanced away" colors.
Most slide films dont have these issues (hence, terrible under indoor lighting or mixed lighting), which is a strength in your case. Stick to ektar and 400X. Triple up on the 400x, not thye Portra. As this shot proves, the Northern Lights can be captured very well with slide film. And given it is from 2001, its proibably either E200 pushed (800 max, which 400X does easily), or Provia 400F.
1 roll 400X at 400
1 roll at 800
1 roll at 1600
Originally Posted by pukalo
Many thanks! That is sound advice. I got a 5 roll pack of Provia 400X.....that should be enough for the 3 experiments you mentioned above, although I am not too keen on a 2 stop push. We will see......I will have to make a last min judgement call based on the intensity of the lights up in the Arctic.
Beyond that, if time permits (I also have my D300 with the Tokina 11-16 which will take precedence above the film for obvious reasons...and I have only 1 tripod) I will experiment with the portra.
You are right about the aurora shots in the Flickr stream. They are clearly long exposures on slow slide film.........I made the mistake of shooting at low ISO last year and my images were pretty much like those......light smear. They look lovely, but the aurora looks absolutely stunning when keeping exposures below 30 secs. That should be possible with ISO800 and f2.8.
Anyone have recommendations for sending in the film for development/push? I used E-Six in Atlanta for my Portra experiments. I don't want to unnecessarily blame them (it is very likely that I am at fault for the poor results), but I'd rather go with a lab people have had sufficient experience with and have consistently got good results.
I have heard good things about Richard's Photolab over in California.
Don't worry too much, Provia 400X handles 2 stop pushes quite well. It's a beautiful film with great colors!
Originally Posted by psychoanalyst_god
If I can capture the lights on slide, that is one thing off my "dream" check-list!
Originally Posted by Rudeofus
I agree with Pukalo, Portra will wash out those beautiful colors that you are trying to capture.
IMHO, Ektar pushed to 800 is noisy, but in a nice way (I like grain if it looks filmy). You may want to try a roll or two to see what happens.
As for the best bet... probably the Provia 400x. Looks good pushed a couple stops.
Dont take chances with your prior lab! I would say it is pretty difficult to screw up negative shots on the shooters end - but very easy, and likely, on the processing end. Especially in todays low volume film world, where many labs keep the chems far too long to squeeze out a few extra dollars. At your expense.
Send you slide film to either:
Denver Digital Imaging aka The Slide Printer
They specialize in E-6, and have a long history of good work, back to the 1970's. They use a dip and Dunk machine too, which is bber than roller transport (which can scratch your film).
North Coast Photo of Ken Rockwell fame/acclaim. Especially good if you want some decent scans at reasonable prices to go with your slides. They have decent volume too, due to the referral at Kens site.