Wide-field large format astrophotography using completely tradtional methods. Read more
This project was successfully funded on March 24, 2012.
About this project
Because Kickstarter wont accept my video for some reason, I have uploaded it to youtube.
Currently nearly all of the astrophotography that is done today is digital, actually I know of only a few people that still practice this art using traditional formats (aka film). I want to do a revival of film based astrophotography. Using a combination of Medium Format and Large Format cameras to get a view of the skies that is unrivaled in resolution. In the image that I have included as the title image for my project, it is a scanned in medium format (6cm x 7cm) image of a small section of the milky way as taken by the author (and a technical mentor of my project) of Nightfly Photography; James Cormier. the 4x5 negatives I intend to use will have roughly four and a half times the resoution. To put this into perspective, A raw image file from a 10mp Camera is roughly 25mb. A fully scanned large format 4x5 negative contains over a gigabyte of information.
This project site says that this will happen in the town of Tonopah, NV but in reality it will occur at a dark sky site over 80 miles away, so unhindered is this site by man made light pollution that it has been reported on several occasions that the milky way can actually cast visible shadows on the ground.
I plan to spend a month in summer during the new moon phase to gather images of the summer milky way as seen from the northern hemisphere (Roughly +90 to -35 Declination) A 300mm Large format Lens (~90mm in 35mm equivalent) for close up constellation images. A 90mm Large Format Lens (~28mm in 35mm equivalent) For wide angle shots milky way. A 90mm Medium Format Lens (~50mm in 35mm equivalent) and a 50mm (28mm in 25mm equivalent)
I plan to use three cameras:
I plan to use three kinds of film:
- Fuji ACROS - A classic black and white film with excellent film characteristics.
- Kodak E200 - The gold standard of film astrophotography
- Kodak E100G - A cousin of E200, finer grained higher saturation
I plan to make ultimately Three forms of art out of all of these negatives.
- Large Sized Grainless Color Images
Due to the fact that I no longer have access to the facilities needed to do color darkroom printing all of the color images will be scanned and large sized quality prints on the highest saturated paper I have found: Picterico Pro White. Using a drum scanner the image files will be on the order of gigabytes resulting in unparalleled resolution and clarity.
Max Print Size: ~13x19in
- Large Sized Grainless Darkroom Images
With the large 4x5 negatives that would be produced from this project they could be printed up to 16x20. With only a four times magnification the images would be crystal in sharpness and clarity.
Max Print Size: 16x20
- Daguerreotype Plates
This is easily one of the oldest photographic processes and the last time it was used in astrophotography was in the mid 1850s. They were used for pictures of solar eclipses and lunar photography. Using a rather complex process I have found a way to create Daguerreotype Astrophotography Plates. I am limiting how many of these I will make because the last stage in the process (Gilding) is -Very- expensive and I don't think i'll have enough gold chloride to do many prints.
The funds I am requesting will go to the purchase of an Equatorial Mount and its related equipment precise enough to have pin point tracking over the -hours- it would take to properly expose an negative (The current mount I have i only good for 5-8 minutes) and the film.
- Vixen GP2 Equitorial Mount (Needed to counter the earths rotation): 700.00
- GP2 Polar Scope (Needed to accurately align to the NCP): 250.00
- Dual Axis Drive DD3 (Needed to guide the telescope on two axis): 430.00
- Weight Shaft Camera Bracket (Needed to mount secondary camera): 90.00
- Orion Starshoot Autoguider (Needed to keep sub arc-second accuracy): 290.00
- 4x5 Kodak E100G Ektachrome Film (Needed for color imaging): 36.00
- 4x5 Fuji ACROS 100 Film (Needed for b/w imaging): 30.00
Expect weekly video updates as this project progress and I talk about the various technical issues that come up as I prepare for the project!
Lets make this Project a reality!
Is there any funding level at which you'd be willing to make digital copies of your works available?
Well what I was planning on doing was working on the digital proof files during the day while I am out on the site. then randomly uploading them for all backers to enjoy as a bonus perk. The resolution wont be as good as the film (think 3000x4000 pixels as opposed to 12000x16000pixels). I would upload them as part of a backer-only update. So realistically -any- backer funding level would have access to them.
This is a good question, im gonna put it on the faq section
Will a wide angle Milky Way photo be an available option for the prints at the Patron and Patron+ levels, or only specific constellations?
Hmm. I haven really thought about that actually. I think that we could come to some kind of arrangement. Maybe I could do an extra large print of the wide angle photo instead of a series of small cropped shots?
Yea I think I could do that if you would want such a thing!
This goes into the FAQ!
Another good question! (This one is also going on my FAQ)
Since I am a stickler for sharpness and clarity I am going to be using the 4x5 black and white Fuji ACROS negatives to create the Daguerreotype plates. Mainly because I have found that when you develop it with a 1:100 mix of Rodinal under stand development conditions its just... well In one of my updates you will see just how wonderful it makes things. The contrast, the Sharpness its just so wonderful.
I figure ill also talk about my process for making the Daguerreotypes Because the effective ISO of the sensatized Daguerreotype plate is too low for guided exposures (I'm doing just iodine, not using bromine as an additional sensatizer) I am doing a two step process.
Step1: Expose the 4x5 negative to the scene (lets say in this case its Scorpio.)
Step2: Develop using a 1:100 dilution rodinal Ive found that this method makes it high contrasting and razor crisp.
Step3: Create an ortholitho positive of the negative in the desired size (This is why I use 4x5 negative, since enlarging it to the max size I can create is only a 4x enlargment.)
Step4: Use the ortholitho positive to do a contact Daguerreotype.
If I used 120size film I believe that the resulting grain and resolution loss resulting from using a smaller format would be unacceptable (at least to me).
As far as I have been able to research there has never been a Milky Way photo in Daguerreotype form. At most it seems the furthest they went with it was Lunar and Solar Photography in the 1850-60s before moving to different processes.
Pledge $1 or more
***A set of five postcards (Backer Chooses which Constellations) printed on glossy post card format.Estimated delivery:
Pledge $6 or more
***A set of five 4x6 "Coffee Table Prints" (Backer Chooses which Constellations) Printed on Epson UPPG paper.Estimated delivery:
Pledge $21 or more
***A set of five 8x10 Prints (Backer Chooses which Constellations) Printed on Picterico Pro White Paper.Estimated delivery:
Pledge $51 or more
***A Set of five 13x19 prints (Backer Chooses which Constellations) Printed on Picterico Pro White Paper.Estimated delivery:
Pledge $100 or more
***A set of three 8x10 Darkroom Prints (Backer Chooses which Constellations) printed on Illford FB multigrade paper.Estimated delivery:
Pledge $500 or more
2 backers Limited (2 left of 4)
***A set of five 16x20 Darkroom Prints (Backer Chooses which Constellations) printed on Illford FB multigrade paper.
***One 4x5 Daguerreotype Of the Summer Milky WayEstimated delivery:
Pledge $1,000 or more
1 backer Limited (1 left of 2)
***One 8x10 Daguerreotype Of the Summer Milky Way.
*** A 4x5 of -every- Constellation PhotographedEstimated delivery:
Pledge $1,500 or more
0 backers Limited (2 left of 2)
***One 11x14 Daguerreotype Of the Summer Milky Way.
***A 5x6 of -Every- constellation photographedEstimated delivery:
Pledge $2,000 or more
0 backers Limited (1 left of 1)
***One 16x20 Daguerreotype Of the Summer Milky Way.
*** An 8x10 of -every- constellation photographed.
*** A Photobook of all photos taken with all relevant Astrometrical data.Estimated delivery:
- (45 days)