(August 4th, 2010) After a long day of sweltering heat with very little shade, I was able to take this last, long exposure photograph of N275P and my friends Phil Bryant Bert Mann, and Dale Tibodeau as they took off on their adventure. It was dark and pitch black. The brightness comes from having the lens wide open for a long time.
Phil Bryant(L), Bert Mann(back to camera) and Dale Tibodeau(R) can be seen going through their exhaustive checklist the last moments before launch. We all got together in prayer for their safety, and wished them a bon voyage. They landed the next morning. You can follow their flight path on Spot (no longer available). They landed safely at about 8AM.
Last photograph I took before launch-towards decoupling from the Air Liquide truck (to the right). The black hose is delivering the hydrogen.
Last year I bought a Polaroid 110 -> 4×5 conversion thinking it would be a much simpler way of shooting large format than carrying a large and bulky monorail and supporting tripod. loaned it to my friend Ed Gold (pictured above) who used it for his Galena, Alaska book project.
New55FILM are a kickstarter designing new chemistry to reimagine Polaroid type 55 Black and White film. They have a number of interesting products including New55 PN which is coming closer and closer to Polaroid we all remember and love. It uses the Polaroid 545 holder (available at New55FILM) and follows the same process you became used to following. Note that you will have need to have Ilford Rapid Fixer to fix the negative.
This is my first attempt. Hand held. Learning a new camera and film. And sometimes having to start over again. Each box comes with ISO rating, and recommended development time on the box. Tutorials can be found on their site, and on you tube.
One of the hardest things for me is finding something to photograph. I work long hours, have way too many things and things to plan and do. I have driven by this church daily for almost two years when all of a sudden, last week, it “saw it”. I looked at it from a different angle, and it felt drawn to it. I love that old Spanish Church architecture like one sees in New Mexico. The San Francisco de Asis Mission Church for instance. I vowed to photograph it and use it to learn Salt Printing.
I found some rolls of Kodak Technical Pan 2415 and thought I would try that. it was discontinued in 2004. I have had these rolls since at least 2007. On the shelf I had a couple of bottles of New55FILM R5 Monolith Developer. I liked the idea of not having to use one chemical and then another. I recalled reading somewhere (like their website?) that I could use R5 on out date Black and White film stock, so…
Friday it started snowing and Saturday morning it was still coming down. I wish I had not waited and just gone to photograph it while the sun was out. My friend Ed Gold said, “Let’s go now”, and was kind enough to accompany me. So we went.
Loaded a roll of film into one of my Canon EOS-1 cameras, set the ISO (too old to have a DX code), and off we went. Shot the roll, ran home and developed it using R5 (more on that later), and scanned it today (will also cover that later).
I am pleasantly surprised by what I am seeing, though it can get rather contrasty.
Ed Gold borrowed my Polaroid 110 4×5 conversion to take with him on his Galena Project. Amazed. Imagine, he’s out on a frozen river taking part in a search for the body of a Galena resident while taking photographs of life in Galena. So cold, at -40 degrees, that he has to compensate, off the top of his head, for how slow the camera is working.
Since coming to Alaksa, I have started to learn this is not Houston. And that there is a BIG difference between 98 degrees F and -40 degrees (F|C).
We are still very much newbies, having seen the Aurora twice, but we have learned there is a process we can follow to help us capture images. The caveat is that we have yet to use a film camera, my preferred type of camera-but it is on my list!
This is a very minimal list, not exhaustive, of things you need or can use, but it should give you enough to get you started. There are a lot of web sites containing good advice. Foggy Lens Photography got us started by giving us an evening class and lab where we captured our first images.
First, some basic equipment. I found having everything in one place really helps so I made a boogie bag with the cameras, and stuff, and a second one with chairs, so I can just grab and go. In my boogie bag I keep:
Camera – You need a digital camera, with low noise at high ISO and either a timer functions or cable release (remote), and white balance control. Practice to feel comfortable working it on manual. At a minimum you need to become familiar enough with your dSLR to understand and manipulate:
Setting your camera to RAW
Lenses – You can use what you have of course, but in general the wider the better. (Don’t forget to remove all filters),
Tripod – Sturdy tripod that won’t wobble during long exposures is a must.
Extra batteries – Always have backup batteries. And a backup for the backup. In cold weather, like we have here in Alaska, you will find batteries can drain quickly, sometimes without warning. Warming them against your body can sometimes get the power up.
Extra memory cards or film, you never know what can happen.
Cable release or remote – This will help you trigger the shutter while not touching the camera and tripod which causes shaking. An alternative I use is the timer function, so when I click the shutter, it will wait X amount of seconds before the shutter opens.
Second, Your camera will perform best on manual. Shoot RAW for the greatest flexibility. We left white balance in auto, but others liked how Tungsten came out. To start I,
Set my lens to its widest (lowest number) and focus to infinity.
Set my ISO to 1600
Set my time to 15 seconds
Set timer to 2-5 seconds.
Now you set up your feedback system. Look at the results you are getting and start adjusting the settings as you need. If you dark, increase your ISO and/or time. If too bright decrease.
Third you need to find aurora. Even during the best time, the Northern Lights are fickle and will display when in the mood. You can ask around and look at local web sites for information on best place to hunting. There are sites you can visit or sign up for that will give you notification when something is about to happen.
Tonight the Aurora Borealis danced the night away. You can see more images as I get them done using the below link to the gallery. First attempt at light painting on Tuesday. The aurora was breathtaking. Location: 61°28’35.6″N 149°09’47.2″W. Please feel free to visit our gallery.
It was a cold, low Kp nite with bright moonlight and clouds making it just a peachy time. The humor and hard work of Adam and the group gave us a greater understanding of our camera’s capabilities and functionality. While we still can’t say we actually saw the Aurora Borealis, we did capture some shots. Remember it was pitch black, and only one young gal said she could actually see it with her eyes.
Thank you Aurora Notifications for your hard work and letting us know about the class. @AuroraNotify. @Canon @Nikon #EOS