Wide-Field Astrophotography - Exposing The Universe Starting With A Common Camera
Wide-field astrophotography is an area where the beginner can bypass the complexities of prime focus telescopic astrophotography yet still excel and achieve good results quickly. Exquisite prime focus close-ups of galaxies and faint nebulae are attractive showpieces, but the art and technicalities of photographing such objects through a telescope are intimidating to the beginner. In high-resolution telescopic photography, the cost of the specialized equipment, the complexities of focusing fine, often invisible detail through the telescope, and guiding with extreme accuracy to achieve worthy results are obstacles to a novice sky shooter. Simpler non-telescopic wide-field astrophotography is an alternative that anyone who owns a camera can enjoy.
Today, may well be the Golden Age of Astrophotography. At no time in the past has there been a wider range of films, both color and black and white, that do well when exposed to the night sky. Many of these films capture images in a few minutes that just a few years ago required lengthy exposure by an experienced astrophotographer. Some of these films can be processed in a 1-hr lab. Gone is the era of waiting days to see your results.
This text then introduces techniques needed to mount ordinary 35-mm and medium format cameras atop an equatorially-driven telescope in order to produce stunning portraits of constellations, the Milky Way, bright nebulae, and star clusters using wide-angle and telephoto lenses. Separate chapters extensively discuss cameras, lenses, filters, and photographic accessories suitable for astrophotography as well as the guiding techniques needed to accurately track moving celestial targets. Additional chapters also detail powerful astrographs such as the Schmidt camera, and describe a number of homebuilt devices which can enhance the convenience and versatility of wide-field astrophotography. Further chapters discuss the characteristics of photographic film, how to test a film for its suitability for astrophotography, the current film selection available, hypersensitizing techniques used to increase the ability of commercial film to record dim celestial objects, and both digital and chemical darkroom techniques useful in astrophotography. This continues the introduction to wide-field astrophotography by discussing the specifics of meteor and comet photography, offering solutions to real problems encountered in astrophotography, and reviewing the history of photography as applied to astronomy.
Wide-Field Astrophotography Reviews
"I fear that Robert Reeves has done astrophotography a disservice. By titling his new book Wide-field Astrophotography, he risks having some amateurs dismiss the book's content as being too narrowly targeted for their interests. And in bypassing the book these people would be overlooking what just might be the finest volume ever published on amateur astrophotography in general. It's true that the book isn't filled with narrow-angle shots of tiny galaxies, but skipping the philosophical arguments, field size is simply an issue of focal length and film format.
I liked this book the second I flipped open its pages, and it kept getting better as I read the text. What makes it so good? For starters we have an author who's not only an accomplished wordsmith but one who has more than 40 years of first-hand experience with his subject matter. That's long enough to have made just about every mistake known to astrophotography, and there's no better way to learn ho to do something right than by doing it wrong a few times first. Since you can probably buy all the English-language astrophotography books currently in print for less than the cost of a few rolls of film and processing, and since they all contain useful information for beginners and veterans alike, there is none that I consider a waste of money. But if I could have only one book on my shelf that covers general night-sky photography, it would be Wide-Field Astrophotography.
Occasionally I get asked if I've written a book on Astrophotography. "Nah," I usually quip, "I've only been doing it since the early '60s and I've still got too much to learn.." Now, however, I can add, "But let me tell you about the one I wish I'd written . . ." --Dennis Di Cicco, Sky & Telescope Magazine
"Over the last five years, the digital CCD camera has largely superceded conventional astrophotography. But the latter can only image over a very tiny field of view and often requires sophisticated computer software to tease out proper results. Arguably, the most beautiful astro images are those showing very wide, sweeping views of the heavens, particularly the myriad stars inhabiting the Milky Way, as well as the many dark clouds of dust that it harbours. Wide Field Astrophotography presents all the details you require to make your own contributions to photographic astronomy, as well as gaining an appreciation of its fascinating history.
In a series of 17 well-laid-out chapters, Reeves walks the reader through the basics, including setting up a simple astrograph using a common camera, to the technical details of the expensive Schmidt cameras-a very `fast' photographic telescope designed to produce, beautiful, wide-field views of the heavens. In addition, all aspects of darkroom methodology and film `hypering' are covered in meticulous detail. Reeves not only writes well, but has included a great number of tips for the less initiated. Add to this the exceptional quality of the paper and black-and-white prints, and you have a reference that is of great value to anyone interested in exposing the night sky. Above all, this wonderful book shows that film technology is far from dead." --Dr. Neil English , Astronomy Now Magazine (England)