I've been dabbling in astrophotography for over 35 years, which means a lot of time spent using film, staring at guidestars, and hiding away in a darkroom. I got started with spectroscopic films, moved to a self-made cold-camera, then hypering (in a self-made hyper chamber).
Astro-Imaging is a curious hobby, no doubt. Some would argue that for most objects, better images have already been taken - but that misses the point (for me, at least). Being able to capture images myself of these fantastic objects complements the thrill I get from seeing them visually, giving a new personal perspective.
For me each shot captures both the subject, and the memory of the adventure. Dragging all my gear to some remote site and 'bagging' the photons of some distant object has been a part of the experience for me. Driving home at 5AM bleary eyed, I stay awake excited by the thought of each image chemically recorded on the film in my cooler, awaiting final processing to unveil the prize. I was also probably kept awake by my sore neck, though, as most of my images were hand guided...
None of these images can match the fantastic shots that are being created today by so many superb astro-imagers. The latest equipment certainly makes most aspects of imaging easier and more productive, but it looks like it has just shifted some of the work to other areas (darkroom vs PC).
Medium Format Images
These images were shot on 6x7 PPF400 (unhypered) through an Astro Physics 155EDF, mounted on a Losmandy GM200. Guiding was by off-axis guidescope (an old Celestron/Vixen 80 mm) using an SBIG ST-4 autoguider. Some of the images display a fine line cutting across the image - most of these images were print scans and it looks like my scanner CCD has developed a defective pixel element.
(This was my first medium format image, through the 155EDF. Clouds prevented me from doing a decent drift alignment, so I had to go with what I could manage in about 15 minutes - the comet was sinking in the northwest. You can see some evidence of field rotation in the upper right corner. Still, I was pretty happy to have managed anything at all).
The majority of these images were shot many years ago through a Celestron C14 tube assy, mounted on a Byers 812, and guided by hand using a Lumicon Giant Easy Guider. As with the above images, some scans show a faint streak from the scanner CCD. None of these images has been digitally manipulated, they are straight scans of home-darkroom prints. Most of the photos were shot on hypered Konica SR1600 or 400 print film, at f/7 using the Lumicon reducer.
(This is the rig that I used to take most of the following photos. This picture was taken at Riverside '85, and is where I took the below Trifid shot)