Making Not Taking Photographs

Backstage views on making photographs professionally

A wonderful evening, it was.

Posted by Mike on August 8, 1996

To do this shot you need a film camera and a way to make the shutter stay open for 4 to 6 hours.

Digital cameras are great but not for this type of work. The computer noise would kill the picture… or the battery would die 1/2 way through.

I had Camera Techs rebuild the shutters and light traps in 3 Koni Omega 6 x 7 ‘s for me a  few years back and so the 45mm lens, with a 400 speed film (NPH Fuji) got me the shot in about 4 1/2 hours. Another key feature is the Koni’s pressure plate that holds the film flat. I tried this shot on 4×5 film and it didn’t work because, invariably, the film would “pop” due to the temperature changes sometime in the night ruining the picture.

You can see a little blip in the exposure as some damned park ranger came driving up with all his lights on… so I had to cover the lens for a few minutes.

There are two enemies… the moon and fog…. well, add in the bear that walked by too, I guess. Mount Rainier at nightIn the 16 x 20 print you can see people walking up the mountain from Camp Muir with their headlamps on. You can also see satellites, airplanes, and billions of stars.

It was eerily quiet… A few animal noises, only one car all night, and rocks coming loose and rolling down the mountain a the freeze thaw cycle continues to reduce the mountain.


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