Saturday, July 26, 2014

Selected Regions of The Milky Way

In my previous post I wrote of my project to photograph selected areas of the Milky Way based on the original idea that Edward Emerson Barnard proposed and implemented on the summit of Mount Wilson in 1905.

I am glad to say that the first round was successful.  I spent several hours shooting the Milky Way from my home in Maine during the dark hours of  June 21st through July 1st.  I lost much sleep and had a few difficult days at work due to the late hour required on these summer evenings / mornings. In the end it was worth it.

I performed several test frames to get perfect infinity focus then dove into the lonely hours of exposing and guiding.  Dodging mosquitoes to my person and fireflies from the exposing film, it was a feat of labor and determination.  The frames below are the fruit of those labors.

Of technical note, all exposures ran about 40-50 minutes at apertures of f/4.8 and f/5.6.  A Tiffen Haze filter was installed in the tail end filter holder on the 400mm f/4 SMC Takumar to reduce the secondary spectrum common on these conventional glass lenses.  Exposures with and without the filter was dramatic.  Star images were much tighter even though overall the filter may reduce contrast and overall sharpness.  Some reflections were noted but were rather minor.  Fuji Neopan Acros was used for image acquisition.  Chosen due to its exemplary reciprocity characteristics and fine grain.  The films were custom processed in Xtol developer by Color Services in Needham Massachusetts.

Post processing was done by converting the original negatives to digital files via an Epson V600 scanner.  Adjustments to levels and curves were completed with Adobe Photoshop.

This image portrays the individual frames below against the wider field

Messier 22 Region in Sagittarius

The Scutum Star Cloud

The Small Sagittarius Star Cloud

The Dark Nebulae in Ophiuchus

The Great Sagittarius Star Cloud

The Dark Lanes in Ophiuchus

The Southern Scutum Star Cloud

There were a few more images but I have yet to work them up for posting.  So happy to be able to share the results with you and produce at least one more time a portfolio of images captured by traditional means.  The time spent under the stars, manually correcting the guiding along the way and taking in the quiet nights allowed me to capture, albeit imperfectly, the spirit of the great E.E. Barnard.  

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