Moonless Night Skies, with Film

The RB-67

The RB-67 is loaded, focused, and waiting for nightfall.

It seems like everyone is shooting star trails these days, by stacking lots and lots of several-minute digital exposures. It’s easy. I do it too. It’s very cool, very technical, and the results can be really beautiful. But there’s a lot of waiting around in the cold, hoping the sensor doesn’t overheat and the batteries don’t quit. Then in post-processing there’s a lot of fussing over noise, hot pixels, blending modes, and those annoying little gaps where the star trail segments meet.

Then there is film. You open the shutter, go to bed, set the alarm for sometime pre-dawn, get up and close the shutter, take a leak, and go back to bed. You still have to scan the negative, remove a lot of micro-dust spots, and adjust the exposure, contrast, and color. There are trade-offs, but I rather like this “analog” alternative. And while the film is exposing, you can pop off some 20-second, super-high ISO images of the Milky Way with the digital thing.

While I was camping at Berlin-Ichthyosaur State Park on a recent moonless night, deep in the outback of Nevada, I made a few very-long exposures on film. The images below are 2, 6, and 8 hours long, on Kodak Portra 800, using a Mamiya RB-67 (which I’ve had since high school) with a 50 mm lens at f/5.6.

A 2-hour exposure

2 hours, looking north.

A 6-hour exposure

6 hours, looking north. I like this one best.

An 8-hour exposure

8 hours, looking south. Impressive, but not as interesting.
That brightest trail is Mars.

 


Copyright © 2018 Tim Messick. All rights reserved.
See also Tim Messick Photography and the Bodie Hills Plants blog.

Posted in Night Photography, Photography | Tagged , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Moonless Night Skies

night sky

I’m just not a night-owl, so it’s hard for me to get motivated to stay up late enough for night photos. But it’s getting dark earlier now, and the camping trip planned for last weekend just happened to be during a period of moonless nights. So here’s a peek into the plane of our galaxy . . . first, from Trumbull Lake in Mono County, California.

night sky

night sky

(25 sec., f/5.0, ISO 6400, LENR on, 20 mm lens, full-frame sensor,
post-processed in Lightroom)

 


And next, from Berlin-Ichthyosaur State Park, in Nye County, Nevada.

night sky

night sky

(10 sec., f/5.6, ISO 10,000, LENR on, 70 mm lens, full-frame sensor,
post-processed in Lightroom)

 


Copyright © 2018 Tim Messick. All rights reserved.
See also Tim Messick Photography and the Bodie Hills Plants blog.

Posted in Nature, Photography | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

The Walls of Fort Worden

Fort Worden

The walls inside the old artillery installations at Fort Worden get decorated with a lot of graffiti. Periodically the graffiti gets covered up by park staff or volunteers. But it appears that they often leave their own creative mark on the place. The photographic potential of these walls was “discovered” some years ago by Brooks Jensen of LensWork Publishing and culminated in his project Wakarimasen. Last May I finally had the opportunity to explore the place myself for a few hours. Some photographers don’t connect with this sort of thing, but for me . . . . it’s a blast.

Fort Worden

Fort Worden

Fort Worden

Fort Worden

Fort Worden

Fort Worden

Fort Worden

Fort Worden

Fort Worden

Fort Worden

Fort Worden


Copyright © 2018 Tim Messick. All rights reserved.
See also Tim Messick Photography and the Bodie Hills Plants blog.

Posted in Photography, Travel | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments