3-D Astro-Photography

About 3-D Photos

Thank you for your interest in Nitescapes 3-D Photography.

“Nitescapes” are photos taken at night incorporating both the night sky and terrestrial (foreground) objects. My interest in this method started with the 1986 visit of Halley’s Comet, when I noticed that my favorite images of Halley included landscapes. This gave the comet a sense of scale while improving the aesthetics of the picture.

Nitescape astrophotos do not look like professional photos taken under “ideal” conditions. Nitescapes exposure times typically are 30 seconds to 3 minutes in duration. The camera is either mounted on a tripod or “piggybacked” on a telescope. If on a telescope, the mount is moving relative to the rotation of the earth which can cause the foreground objects to blur slightly. During the exposure, other things are moving too -- such as wind in the trees, airplanes, satellites, etc. The film must be very fast, at least 800 speed, which gives the photos more “grain.”

All of these factors add up to give the images a different feel, sometimes described as surreal.

Often, images seen in magazines where the sky has a beautiful star field and the foreground is in perfect focus are done by combining two images, one of the sky and one taken earlier of a foreground.

All of my images are genuine unaltered photos taken with twin Olympus OM2's (very basic cameras), using either an Olympus 50mm P1.8 lens, 28mm Visitar P1.9 lens or Super Albinar (made in Korea) 135mm F2.8 lens. My film of choice for the Hyakutake, Winter Star Party and Hale-Bopp pictures was Kodak Royal Gold 1000. This film has been discontinued, however. I currently use Kodak 800 Max for short duration images, and Fugi Pro 400F slide film that has better reciprocity for longer shots.

To take the 3-D images, I simply use a SLIK bar that holds two 35mm cameras, either on a tripod or “piggybacked” on top of an 8 inch Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope. Exposure time typically is under 3 minutes to minimize the blurring effect on the terrestrial objects.

– Bryan R. White