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Photographer
PhillipM
Posts: 6,254
Martin, Tennessee, US


When I first started shooting film, approx 9 months ago fall/winter were moving in, and I wasn't too interested in shooting long exposures at night.

Now that we have some nice summer evenings, I'm thinking of shooting a long exposure of the night sky. I will be using a Graphlex Graphic View camera, with Foma 100 speed b/w film.

I know that you have to take into consideration reciprocity failure.

Having said that, how do you meter the shot? I mean, it will be in full darkness under a starry night sky?

Then of course, there is the problem of focusing....

Have any of you shot such images?  How did you determine exposure times?
Jul 08 13 06:25 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Light Writer
Posts: 18,387
Oakland, California, US


The most obvious answers are probably the best
1. look it up on the internet
2. do tests

If your processing techniques are consistent and reliable, and you have patience, and can afford it, then test.

Looking up the answer on the internet will be a good starting point, at least you'll be more likely to get results the first time out.
Jul 08 13 06:36 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
PhillipM
Posts: 6,254
Martin, Tennessee, US


Thanks LW

I'd rather not piss away a bunch of 4x5 film, doing testing, just to shoot star trails..

Figured someone here, has shot long exposures using film.

wink
Jul 08 13 06:42 am  Link  Quote 
guide forum
Photographer
Giacomo Cirrincioni
Posts: 20,904
New York, New York, US


Yes.  For B&W, shoot Fuji Neopan Acros.  It's reciprocity characteristics are amazing. 

http://www.digitaltruth.com/products/fu … ros100.pdf
Jul 08 13 06:53 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
AgX
Posts: 1,188
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, US


Light Writer wrote:
The most obvious answers are probably the best
1. look it up on the internet
2. do tests

If your processing techniques are consistent and reliable, and you have patience, and can afford it, then test.

Looking up the answer on the internet will be a good starting point, at least you'll be more likely to get results the first time out.

+1

It's so obvious, it's, well...

Shoot a test roll or two of the same emulsion in 120. Bracket enormously based on what your research suggests, take good notes, process as you would your LF film. That should get you close enough. It's not rocket surgery.

Jul 08 13 07:20 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Looknsee Photography
Posts: 20,834
Portland, Oregon, US


In my experience, metering long exposures is hardly worth the effort -- most meters are not overly sensitive at low light.  Further, if you want to be photographing the night sky, I assume that you want to capture star tracks (as they move though the sky), and no meter will be of help -- none have a sufficiently tiny spot sensor.

I've done some long exposure images, with film...

http://www.looknseephoto.com/california/dream.jpg

... and I just guessed.  If you do it often enough, you can make adjustments.

Sorry -- I guess I'm of no help at all.
Jul 08 13 07:32 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Charlie-CNP
Posts: 2,560
New York, New York, US


You have to think of one thing for starters. The type of film that you select is going to have a very big impact on your results. If you have a MF lens on the land camera, set everything that you want in focus as best you can initially. For DOF and exposure time you are most likely looking at something like F11 ISO 200 with a 30 second to 1 minute exposure time. Also with the old land camera's make sure that you have a shutter release cable handy for whichever camera you are using. As steady as you might think your hand is, film is much less forgiving to any motion bumps..etc. than digital generally.

Another trick that you could do is to play with exposures on your digital camera to dial in the desired settings before going to a bunch of 4x5 film. The times an such shouldn't vary that much unless you are going old school to go through the wet collidon process. good luck
Jul 08 13 07:40 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Vector One Photography
Posts: 2,590
Fort Lauderdale, Florida, US


PhilipM wrote:
I'm thinking of shooting a long exposure of the night sky.
Charlie-CNP wrote:
You have to think of one thing for starters. The type of film that you select is going to have a very big impact on your results. If you have a MF lens on the land camera, set everything that you want in focus as best you can initially. For DOF and exposure time you are most likely looking at something like F11 ISO 200 with a 30 second to 1 minute exposure time.

He's shooting the night sky.... you don't need depth of field when you shoot at infinity. Infinity is infinity, once you get past the last distance on the scale, it's all in focus. And I'm not sure F/11 at 30 to sixty second would be right, that's only a one stop difference but it's as good as any to start. And if you are at infinity, why do you need f/11 unless that is three stops from widest to give you the sharpest part of the lens.

I would try the digital camera as a test to save film. 

Give it a shot..... or two.

Jul 08 13 07:57 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
PS201
Posts: 188
Belfast, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom


Be careful if you are focusing an autofocus lens to infinity.

Autofocus lenses have some slack at infinity to allow for servo correction, infinity will be a touch before the focusing ring is fully turned.

It may not be an issue with the equipment you will be using, but worth to keep in mind.

I have done star trails with digital but I did several exposures and then used a stacking program,

I will look them up when I get to a computer.
Jul 08 13 08:11 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
PS201
Posts: 188
Belfast, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom


N/A
Jul 08 13 08:43 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
PhillipM
Posts: 6,254
Martin, Tennessee, US


I'm using a 4x5 film camera.

No auto anything wink
Jul 08 13 08:48 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
PS201
Posts: 188
Belfast, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom


PhillipM wrote:
I'm using a 4x5 film camera.

No auto anything wink

Thought so, maybe of help if you decide to test with a digi first smile

Jul 08 13 09:02 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Don Olson Imagery
Posts: 291
Eugene, Oregon, US


Remember, you are shooting stars which are like shooting specular hi lights so you won't need to or really be able to meter for them. I'm assuming you'll be using a normal lens in the vicinity of 135 to 150mm? I'd just use it's best aperture  f11-20 whatever and go from there. As mentioned you can use a digital for testing to get you in the ballpark like we used Polaroid in the past. Heavy sturdy studio tripod and shutter release cable. Use a loupe as a focusing aide on the ground glass and a dark cloth. I have a round 10x that I put on the GG and put my eye to. You'll probably have to bracket. I've never tried it but sounds like fun. It's great shooting a man's camera.
Jul 08 13 09:09 am  Link  Quote 
guide forum
Photographer
Giacomo Cirrincioni
Posts: 20,904
New York, New York, US


PS201 wrote:
Thought so, maybe of help if you decide to test with a digi first smile

Digital won't take reciprocity failure into account...

Again, for shooting long exposures in B&W, Acros is your friend.  For exposures up to 2 minutes, no compensation in exposure time is required.  For exposures between three minutes and 16 minutes, you have to open up a half stop.  Beyond 16 minutes (actually 1,000 seconds) you will have to test, but if you research Acros on APUG you'll probably find what you need to know.

How long are you planning on exposing the film for?

http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=acros%20long%20exposure

I would also recommend the following book:

http://www.amazon.com/Night-Photography … _lmf_tit_1

And of course the work of one of my favorite photographers, Brassai (do a google image search, his work of Paris at Night is amazing).  He was who I looked to when commissioned to shoot my city at night:

https://fbcdn-sphotos-e-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-frc3/283106_10150275145337179_2679592_n.jpg

https://sphotos-b.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-frc3/281391_10150275145707179_3846392_n.jpg

https://fbcdn-sphotos-g-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-ash3/283218_10150275145847179_6936553_n.jpg

https://fbcdn-sphotos-b-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-ash4/205984_10150275145432179_1649925_n.jpg

Jul 08 13 09:15 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
PhillipM
Posts: 6,254
Martin, Tennessee, US


Thanks all.

I'll wing it I guess.

I'll start with a 2 hour exposure at f22'sh or so.

I'll develope the film for 10 minutes, which is 3 minutes over my norm.

I can always shoot more by walking out my back door and doing it again.
Jul 08 13 09:51 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
ybfoto
Posts: 642
Oakland, California, US


as everyone else posted the best thing to do is look online for guidelines. The problem with night photography and figuring exposure times is there is so much variation of lighting. For example you said you wanted to take shots of the nighttime sky...Is that with or without the moon. If you want the moon what phase of moon are you shooting in. and what time of night. Are you shooting near a city where the lights can "contaminate" the scene, or are you in the middle of nowhere. Do want star trails or not etc....All these variables will dictate your exposure times and adjusting for rep failure.
Jul 08 13 09:56 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
ybfoto
Posts: 642
Oakland, California, US


PhillipM wrote:
Thanks all.

I'll wing it I guess.

I'll start with a 2 hour exposure at f22'sh or so.

I'll develope the film for 10 minutes, which is 3 minutes over my norm.

I can always shoot more by walking out my back door and doing it again.

if you are pointing the lens directly in the night sky then you dont need to use f/22.

You could use f/8  if there is not anything in the foreground...Also keep in mind if shooting in your back yard the lights from street lamps porch lights etc can create flaring even if the lens isnt pointing at them, and keep the back covered during exposure as well.

Jul 08 13 10:01 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
ybfoto
Posts: 642
Oakland, California, US


Also it may be much easier to test by making adjustments during exposure and keeping your development time normal for that film and speed.

http://home.earthlink.net/~kitathome/Lu … rocity.htm


link to good page with test results of various films and other different conditions
Jul 08 13 10:11 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
PhillipM
Posts: 6,254
Martin, Tennessee, US


Thanks YB.

No light pollution at all.  Pitch black.

Thought about using f22's to keep star trails sharp.

TIA
Jul 08 13 10:16 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
R Michael Walker
Posts: 11,959
Costa Mesa, California, US


PhillipM wrote:
Thanks all.

I'll wing it I guess.

I'll start with a 2 hour exposure at f22'sh or so.

I'll develope the film for 10 minutes, which is 3 minutes over my norm.

I can always shoot more by walking out my back door and doing it again.

Not long enough for circular trails but way to long for sharp stars. Your focal length divided by 600 is how you judge the time the earth's rotation will create a blur. I know with my Nikon D800 and my 16mm I can only shoot 30 seconds without star blur being really noticeable. And to get that I have to shoot 3200 ISO! Here is a bit of info I got when I first started shooting stars:

"Cheryl from Chicago Says:   
August 25th, 2012 at 7:47 pm
Thank you for sharing your knowledge and experience. I’d like to add a helpful technique to more accurately determine the shutter speed for freezing stars. For full-frame sensors (for film cameras and some newer digital cameras), use the following formula to get the shutter speed: =600/lens focal length. Thus if you were using an 18mm lens, the shutter speed should be 33 seconds (or faster). However, as noted, this is for a full frame sensor. Since most digital cameras have cropped sensors, you need to make an adjustment. For my Nikon D7000, an 18mm digital lens is equivalent to a 27mm lens on a film camera; thus 600/27 equals 22 seconds. Therefore, determining shutter speed for freezing stars depends on the the focal length of the lens and the degree of sensor crop on a digital camera.


Read more: http://digital-photography-school.com/h … z2YTWLjx2f"

Jul 08 13 10:17 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
ybfoto
Posts: 642
Oakland, California, US


PhillipM wrote:
Thanks YB.

No light pollution at all.  Pitch black.

Thought about using f22's to keep star trails sharp.

TIA

At f/22 you may come back with very dim trails if anything. actually you should open the aperture up to get as much light as possible...dont worry to much about sharpness remember you are photographing something moving...

link with some explanation

http://www.lightstalking.com/how-to-pho … tar-trails

Jul 08 13 10:38 am  Link  Quote 
Artist/Painter
3068875
Posts: 890
Los Angeles, California, US


PhillipM wrote:
Thought about using f22's to keep star trails sharp.
ybfoto wrote:
At f/22 you may come back with very dim trails if anything. a

At f/22 I'd be worried about artifacts from diffraction, as well.

Jul 08 13 10:44 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Zack Zoll
Posts: 2,266
Glens Falls, New York, US


de0rbit wrote:
At f/22 I'd be worried about artifacts from diffraction, as well.

Not with a 4x5.  It's diffraction-limited around f/64.

If you're developing with a fairly low-contrast developer, then just go nuts with the exposure.  Seriously, just use way more than you think you need.  Between reciprocity and the huge difference in exposure times that one stop makes, the difference between a 1 hour exposure and a 2 hour exposure will be somewhere between about 8/10ths of a stop and a 3/10ths of a stop, depending on what film stock you use.

I'd probably shoot at f/16 so that your trails aren't so faint, but 1-2 hours at 100 ISO sounds good to me, depending on whether or not you live in the city.  If you do, the ambient light is going to overpower a lot of the stars by the time you get than long into it.

Jul 08 13 11:25 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Michael DBA Expressions
Posts: 3,123
Lynchburg, Virginia, US


(1) you have a choice, you can "piss away" film (your words) doing tests, or (2) you can piss away film getting crap results AND THEN doing tests. Your choice.

Doing tests from which you learn something is NEVER a waste of materials or time.

(3) f22 will not help you keep your star trails sharp. Because EVERYTHING, including those star trails is at infinity focal distance, you could use f1.2 if you had a lens that fast and everything would be in focus. Much better than f22 would be 2-1/2 stops closed from your lens's largest aperture. If you have an f4.5 lens, set it at f8. THAT will give you the sharpest possible images.

(4) developing for 30% longer will not improve your negatives. It will degrade them, because your lighting is already VERY contrasty, from the dead black of deep space to the intensely bright suns that make up the firmament. You don't need to blow those spots out any more than they already would be, nor do you need the increased grain and noise that overdevelopment will provide. You are not, after all, trying to cause the black sky to pick up detail, you are trying to retain sharpness in the intensely bright stars.
Jul 08 13 11:30 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
PhillipM
Posts: 6,254
Martin, Tennessee, US


Michael DBA Expressions wrote:
(1) you have a choice, you can "piss away" film (your words) doing tests, or (2) you can piss away film getting crap results AND THEN doing tests. Your choice.

Doing tests from which you learn something is NEVER a waste of materials or time.

Right....

Gotcha.

I'm going to shoot a couple pieces tonight.  The "plan" is 2 hour exposure @ f22.

I'll develope the film in D-76 for 7 minutes... My usual.

We'll see how it rolls..

Appreciate all the tips and insight.

Jul 08 13 11:59 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
JM Dean
Posts: 8,930
Cary, North Carolina, US


I haven't done night sky but have done some night cityscapes. Totally different I suppose because in a cityscape at least you have the lights to meter on.
For a starting point I'd probably browse around flicker and see what others were shooting at. Then do some test with digital to get in the ballpark of what i wanted to achieve.
Jul 08 13 12:21 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
OTSOG
Posts: 141
Benicia, California, US


You could save some film and developing time by making a four exposure, 2"x2.25" matte to go in front on the film holder.
Jul 08 13 12:22 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Photos by Lorrin
Posts: 6,904
Eugene, Oregon, US


Look up water bath developing for high contrast subjects  over expose 3 stops (its been a long time since I did this)

1 min water (agitate and bump to get rid of air bubbles)+ 1 min D76  + 3 min water + 1 min     tell you hit 6 min dev

no agitation
Jul 08 13 01:04 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
ybfoto
Posts: 642
Oakland, California, US


hey good luck tonight tell us how they turned out...my vote is still opening up the aperture to at least f/8, I would personally start at f/5.6. Think of it this way at f/5.6 you can get more testing done because of shorter exposure times. And remember as long as you dont have anything you want in focus in the foreground you will be at focusing at infinity so they will be sharp.

AND KEEP IT SIMPLE...Just start at a time and just bracket up. Half stops should be fine. Then develop as normal, once you find a correct exposure for that time of night you can fine tune it then. Remember though its a new moon tonight so you got tomorrow and maybe the next day, after that the exposure times will change because of the lunar cycle

edit to add...And dont worry about rep failure tonight just bracket it...once you have a good idea what the correct exposure time is then if you want to fine tune it by say stopping the lens a full stop then you can adjust for longer exposure time required and tack on extra time for rep failure...
Jul 08 13 04:24 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Lee Paulson Photography
Posts: 38
Diamond Bar, California, US


As I've said in other posts, developing black and white film is an art all unto itself.  If you are looking to increase the dynamic range of the film, that is bring up shadow detail while retaining highlight detail, the trick, as mentioned above, is to develop your film with the absolute minimum of agitation.

Tap to get the bubbles off, then, basically let the film sit in the developer without any (or very little, you will have to experiment) agitation.  What happens then is that the highlights use up the developer molecules sitting right next to the film and stop developing.  Meanwhile, the shadows, which have had much less exposure, do not exhaust the developer molecules next to them.  They keep developing.

I have used this technique to create negatives of night scenes with lots of nice shadow detail, while at the same time showing the filaments in streetlights.  It takes practice and testing, but it is easily doable.  D-76 will work just fine.
Jul 08 13 04:51 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Light Writer
Posts: 18,387
Oakland, California, US


Another solution is the digital test. Use the same ISO as your film, and get a decent result, then use that as a guide. As you say conditions will vary.
Jul 08 13 06:37 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
The F-Stop
Posts: 1,426
New York, New York, US


Phill it's been a long time since I did any of this so I am just rehashing what I faintly remeber of my experiance with this.

Shoot your lens at it's middle ƒ-stop. Focus for infinity unless of course you have some foreground you want to keep, like the horizon... then DOF it.

Your stars are moving and are almost a constant brightness unlike the cumulative sky brightness, another story, but you say no light polution, just milky way light.... should be amzingly beautiful. BTW my Gosen Luna Pro SBC can measure a night sky.

Your exposure time will determind the length of the  tails. I like nice long tails so I leave my lens open for an hour or two using 400 TMax at ƒ11on my RB. If you place the north star in the center you will get the wheel effect otherwise you jsut get a falling stars effect.

You can time the tails yourself by fixing a reference point in the GG finder n watching where a particular bright star has moved in an hour or more till you get the length you want.

good luck n lets see some amazing sky shots?

paul
Jul 08 13 07:49 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
PhillipM
Posts: 6,254
Martin, Tennessee, US


Well, thought last night would be a perfect night.  No humidity, which is very rare for us here in the south in July.  Clear unobstructed view of the sky.  Set up the camera at 9:00 p.m., walked out to it in the field at 10:15 p.m., after I closed the shutter, I took the flashlight, and noticed the lens had moisture all over it. ;(

I guess I'll have to wait until fall sometime, because we have dew on the grass every morning this time of year.
Jul 13 13 04:41 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Light Writer
Posts: 18,387
Oakland, California, US


PhillipM wrote:
Well, thought last night would be a perfect night.  No humidity, which is very rare for us here in the south in July.  Clear unobstructed view of the sky.  Set up the camera at 9:00 p.m., walked out to it in the field at 10:15 p.m., after I closed the shutter, I took the flashlight, and noticed the lens had moisture all over it. ;(

I guess I'll have to wait until fall sometime, because we have dew on the grass every morning this time of year.

You don't necesarily have to wait, it might be that you need time for the temperatures to equalize. The camera's a large hot sealed box, set it up at night with no lensboard in place and let the temperatures eqalize, that might be the source of the condensation, the interior of the camera is warmer than the rapidly cooling air, thus the humidity condenses on the warmer object.

Jul 13 13 06:59 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
PhillipM
Posts: 6,254
Martin, Tennessee, US


Jul 13 13 07:36 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Light Writer
Posts: 18,387
Oakland, California, US


PhillipM wrote:
Thanks

I did find this

http://www.astronomy-education.com/index.php?page=188

OK, so I got the physics wrong. LOL

Jul 13 13 08:04 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
PhillipM
Posts: 6,254
Martin, Tennessee, US


No worries LW...
Jul 13 13 08:17 am  Link  Quote 
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