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  1. #1

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    Taking pictures of the stars

    I'm going on a camping trip next week, and am pretty excited to try and get some pictures of the stars. I was inspired by these wonderful pictures of the recent meteor shower: http://blog.flickr.net/en/2009/08/13/perseid-showers/

    Anyway, I was just wondering if anyone could give me some aperture/shutter speed combos for capturing the stars on 200ISO b&w film. I'll be up in the Rocky Mountains far from light pollution. It's my first time trying this, so I'm expecting to do quite a bit of bracketing, but I was just looking for some ball park numbers. Should I bracket around 2 minute or 20 minutes? I plan on using a tripod and shutter release cable, of course.

    I was looking at The Ultimate Exposure Chart and according to that I'm at an EV of -4 to -6 which means a 4minute exposure at f/4 and an 8 min at f/5.6. Does that sound about right?

    Any tips on bracketing or nighttime star photography in general? Thanks bunches!

  2. #2

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    with such long exposures, make sure to compensate for reciprocity failure. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Recipro...photography%29

  3. #3

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    Thanks for pointing this out to me! It's pretty interesting, but it looks like I'm in for quite a long exposure. At 100 seconds, the datasheet recommends lengthening the exposure 18x! Is this unusually long? I'm thinking I might have to stop by the camera store and pick up some 1600 speed film if I plan on sleeping at all during this trip! Any recommendations on film without such a significant reciprocity failure?

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by beala View Post
    Any recommendations on film without such a significant reciprocity failure?
    Don't bother with any of the super-fast films if combating reciprocity failure is your goal. They have the worst reciprocity during long exposures of any film. T-Max 100, Fuji Across, or Fuji Provia, T64, and Astia have amazing reciprocity characteristics, and all of them are actually faster than 400 films in long exposures. Perhaps this is an oversimplification, but there is a reason that most star photography is not done on 400 and faster films.
    2F/2F

    "Truth and love are my law and worship. Form and conscience are my manifestation and guide. Nature and peace are my shelter and companions. Order is my attitude. Beauty and perfection are my attack."

    - Rob Tyner (1944 - 1991)

  5. #5
    Dan Henderson's Avatar
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    well, first you have to stake out Hollywood restaurant with other papara....oh, you meant...never mind.

    Seriously, if you don't want to deal with reciprocity, try Fuji Acros film. I am not sure how long you can expose Acros without compensating for reciprocity failure, but I have done 8 minute exposures based on a metered reading of how much light was left in the sky, and got good negatives.


    web site: Dan Henderson, Photographer.com

    blog: https://danhendersonphotographer.wordpress.com/

    I am not anti-digital. I am pro-film.

  6. #6

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    I recently shot a couple star shots (first time ever). I used Fuji T64, a 28mm lens at f/2.0, and anywhere from 30 seconds to 2 mins. I bracketed of course.

    Some of the slower films are actually faster once you get much above 30 seconds or so due to reciprocity.

  7. #7

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    i may have the star wrong but if you point to polaris
    ( north star/end of the handle of the little dipper )
    all the stars will make concentric circles around IT ...
    polaris doens't rotate ...

    have fun!

    john

  8. #8

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    Steve,

    Wouldn't f/11 or f/16 be too tiny an aperture for this?
    2F/2F

    "Truth and love are my law and worship. Form and conscience are my manifestation and guide. Nature and peace are my shelter and companions. Order is my attitude. Beauty and perfection are my attack."

    - Rob Tyner (1944 - 1991)

  9. #9
    calceman's Avatar
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    Forget about reciprocity failure, since your shots will be at least 30mns.
    The smallest aperture, the less stars you will get (only the brightests). No need for small aperture (smaller than f/8) since you dont need depth of field either.
    Also, you will not overexpose in your case (away from city lights) so you can focus at infinity and set aperture at f/5.6 to 8 for at least 30mns for a bit of trailing. Then before going to bed, open the shutter and wake up before dawn (then for safety leave smaller aperture if you oversleep).
    Best time for this is full moon, when you actually capture landscape as well.

  10. #10

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    The way I understand it, the aperture determines how many stars of each intensity are captured. The wider apertures show more of the fainter stars on the film, and the more you stop down, the more of the faint ones get cut out.

    But I do not know at what apertures you also start to lose the brighter stars.

    I have also heard, but not tested, that the angle of view affects this by showing more or less of the sky, which can gain density due to fog/haze and obscure some stars. Thus it is more important to have a wider aperture on a wider lens, to allow the stars to better appear to "burn through" the fog/haze on the picture.

    I have only shot star trails a few times. Only a few scenes have inspired me to do so. I used f/4 - f/8 and a 100-speed film in a Mamiya M645 with a 55mm lens and all-night exposures. Pix came out OK. F/5.6 seemed to be the best for the conditions at the time. Film was Fuji Reala, which is not the best as far as reciprocity, but also not the worst.

    I set up my shot, put the lens cap on, took the camera off the tripod, removed the quick release plate, opened the shutter on B, removed the battery, put the quick release plate back on (hopefully aligning it the same exact way), put the camera back on the tripod, and then removed the lens cap.

    I don't know if this was necessary, but I assumed that since the camera has an electronic shutter, that it would be burning through the battery if the camera was left open on B.
    Last edited by 2F/2F; 08-14-2009 at 05:32 PM. Click to view previous post history.
    2F/2F

    "Truth and love are my law and worship. Form and conscience are my manifestation and guide. Nature and peace are my shelter and companions. Order is my attitude. Beauty and perfection are my attack."

    - Rob Tyner (1944 - 1991)

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