This is the picture. The fabled photograph that has eluded me for the better part of two years. It all started in the summer of 2008, when I first wanted to capture the milky way out in the Anza Borrego desert. While I made it out there in August of that year, my camera at that time could only muster a grainy image, and my results were far from ideal. Fast forward to 2010. My goal of capturing this image came back to me a few months ago, and was first attempted in the form of a failed back-of-a-motorcycle ride that was abandoned before it even started. Attempts at camping trips timed correctly with the lunar cycles and good air quality all proved unsuccessful over the next few weeks and months, until a window of opportunity finally presented itself. Taking only my Nissan packed with as much gear as possible, a quick camping trip finally allowed me to capture this image last Friday night.
Yes, it's still grainy. With my current cropped-sensor camera, it's literally the best that I can do. But this hasn't stopped me from calling this photograph a success. And for ISO 6400, you have to admit that it's not too terribly bad either. Unless a stranger randomly donates a Canon 5D Mark II to my cause, I'll just have to be content with what I've got. It's not the best Milky Way photograph I've taken, but it's the one I've most anticipated. And I'm glad it could finally happen.
Thanksgiving week, I drove out to Utah from San Diego. And because I was with my family, we planned to spend the night in Las Vegas to split the long car ride in half. The photo above was shot from our room at the Paris hotel, looking down towards the heart of the lower strip. It was shot on my Blackbird, Fly 35mm TLR camera on cheap Kodak Gold film. Though I love the results that this camera gives, after spending 6+ hours scanning in a mere three rolls of film, I'm seriously considering selling it. Granted, I can get more than what I paid for it if I play my cards right. But it's just hard to give up such a quirky little camera.
The FED-2 Soviet Russian camera that I owned last year was a trusty beast. It never failed me, and the optical quality was superb. The FED-3 that I bought a few weeks back? Not so much, though this isn't necessarily a bad thing. One of the first problems I've found with the FED-3 is that it experiences light leaks, and I'm not sure where they're coming from. It doesn't occur on all frames, and the ones that are affected range in severity from a slight blue haze over the image to a blown out mess. But that's just part of the fun, right?
The first photograph above was taken at the outlet malls in Primm, Nevada, and the second one was taken at the Snowbird Ski Resort in Utah. Both were shot on the FED-3 with an Industar 61 L/D lens, and with cheap (and expired) Fuji 400 iso film. They are fairly grainy because of this fact, but I am still surprised at how well these shots turned out. I can't quite put my finger on it, but there's something personally appealing about the color tones found in these images that I just can't replicate with digital.