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  1. #21
    copake_ham's Avatar
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    The best nights for shooting star trails up in Copake are in the dead of winter (crystal clear skies when it's not snowing!).

    Any thoughts on how long to put the camera out to become "acclimated" to the cold before opening the shutter? And is there a risk of the shutter freezing in the open position if it's too cold? (i.e. is there a "too cold").

    I "played" around with star (and moon) shots this past weekend with the F3HP - little "rusty" using the "T" position so blew a few shots. Still have half a roll to go.

    I want to try doing more of this - as winter sets in so advice on camera-care under those adverse conditions is welcome.

  2. #22
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    Hi George,

    Best to let the camera acclimatize probably for a few hours before shooting if cold. But afterward return the camera to case or plastic bag and let re-aclimatize to indoor temperatures for many hours before taking it out in the warmth.

    It is also best to use a mechanical camera with a mirror lock up if it is an SLR. Or a camera that has a B setting that will not rely on battery power. Otherwise, the mirror may swing down when/if the camera battery fails.

    You can take photos if the moon is out but, it is best to wait until it sets. If you go back and see the photo that I posted of Old Faithful, the moon was almost full but it set at about 1:00 AM. That is why the image was taken between about 1:00 and 3:00 AM and I was able to record the image without any spill from the moon. Also, in this case, as mentioned the Geyser erupted 2X but I had to play games for exposure due to the lights around Old Faithful that run up into the trees.

    Good luck however and stay warm.

    Rich
    Richard A. Nelridge
    http://www.nelridge.com

  3. #23
    Lee L's Avatar
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    I can't give you a lot of advice about freezing shutters and mirror boxes. I've shot with my SLRs in -13F all day long without any problems, so they're not susceptible under normal circumstances. I did once work on a job with a Hassy that shifted to about 1 second on the 1/15 setting in -20 weather at sunset.

    Frost and dew are another concern. There are strings of resistors or insulated resistant wire that are used to warm telescope optics to just above ambient temps, and so above dewpoint. These go by various names like dew-tape or dew-chaser. They come in sizes to fit common telescopes and can be run off batteries or AC mains, with the attendant higher drain you'd expect from a resistive load. A deep cycle or a UPS lead acid battery come in handy here. I have a dew-tape that is long enough to wrap around the body and lens of a 35mm camera, so I use that on wet or frosty nights. There are plans online that you should be able to google, and being a ham, you should have no trouble putting one together. Some people use gutter heating tape cut to shorter lengths. This could also help keep batteries warm and mechanics working, but I prefer to work with mechanical cameras for this kind of work. Lately I've been using rangefinders with hot shoe finders for wide field astrophotography, which works very well. You can actually compose on the night sky through a decent hot shoe finder like the Cosinas and other good makes. That's tough to do even with most "bright screen" SLRs.

    Another good idea for dew prevention is the longest, "tightest" lens hood you can find, but those become less effective at preventing dew as your angle of view gets wider. On a telescope the long lens hood is called a dew shield.

    Rich's advice on a good plastic bag or case as you take the camera inside is a very good suggestion. Under severe circumstances you could get condensation on camera internals bringing a very cold camera inside to warm and humid conditions.

    Lee

  4. #24
    Jim Jones's Avatar
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    To eliminate dew on the lens, I fabricated a large lens hood from a rectangular tin can and installed resistors dissipating one or two watts of power beneath the lens. Others say air from a small fan also works.

    I've never taken precautions when taking a camera from warm rooms into intense cold. Like Lee says, when bringing them back indoors, they should be protected from humidity until they are near room temperature.

    Considering the current prices of older high quality all mechanical cameras, buying one just for cold weather photography and long night-time exposures seems reasonable.

  5. #25

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    Considering the current prices of older high quality all mechanical cameras, buying one just for cold weather photography and long night-time exposures seems reasonable.
    Seems like a good idea. Especially since my ELAN 7 uses power to keep the shutter open on a bulb exposure.

  6. #26

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    This week I took 2 pictures, f/11 for 15 minutes, and 30 minutes on Delta 100. After processing at school (D76 1:1 for 9 minutes) I got pictures with barely visible trails. Printing the 30 minute picture for 15 seconds at (I think) f/11 at grade 5 produced a print with a grayish sky and star streaks, many bright, others faint.

    What do I do to the exposure to increase the contrast?

  7. #27

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    Quote Originally Posted by reub2000 View Post
    This week I took 2 pictures, f/11 for 15 minutes, and 30 minutes on Delta 100. After processing at school (D76 1:1 for 9 minutes) I got pictures with barely visible trails. Printing the 30 minute picture for 15 seconds at (I think) f/11 at grade 5 produced a print with a grayish sky and star streaks, many bright, others faint.

    What do I do to the exposure to increase the contrast?
    You could try processing the Delta 100 in Dektol (Print Developer) instead of D-76.

    Better to switch from Delta 100 to Tri-X 400 and process it in undiluted D-76.
    Tom Hoskinson
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    Everything is analog - even digital :D

  8. #28
    Lee L's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by reub2000 View Post
    This week I took 2 pictures, f/11 for 15 minutes, and 30 minutes on Delta 100. After processing at school (D76 1:1 for 9 minutes) I got pictures with barely visible trails. Printing the 30 minute picture for 15 seconds at (I think) f/11 at grade 5 produced a print with a grayish sky and star streaks, many bright, others faint.

    What do I do to the exposure to increase the contrast?
    f:11 is stopped down too far. The stars are moving relative to the film, so they're not producing enough exposure at any point along their path at f:11. Open up to at least f:4 or f:2.8. But if you have significant light pollution, the sky will brighten up as well and kill the contrast. Cure for that as discussed earlier is to find darker skies, which may be hard to find around Chicago. Was the moon set when you shot?

    Visit here: http://cleardarksky.com/csk/prov/Illinois_clocks.html
    to find when a good time to shoot is and poke around the site to find out about the closest dark skies to you. Note the light pollution index column on the linked page above. The web site will show you color coded sky pollution "contour" maps for your area. Here's one for an observing site about 15 miles west of Waukegan (sp?). http://cleardarksky.com/lp/smith01_I...ht%20pollution

    Lee

  9. #29

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    Looks like I'm an 8 or 9 on the Bortle Scale. Shame. When I tried at f/4 and f/5.6 the sky was opaque on the film with no visable stars. Acording to the map the best place to shoot would be in the middle of lake michigan.

  10. #30

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    Follow an earlier suggestion and photograph moving car headlights and tail lights from a highway bridge. Use a tripod, a fast lens and a time exposure with the lens aperture wide open.
    Tom Hoskinson
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    Everything is analog - even digital :D

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