City Cometscape

City Cometscape
Lake Calhoun looking at Minneapolis, 4:00 am 23 March 97. 
Kiev-88, 80mm , 20 seconds at f/4 on PMC400.

Notes from Thor’s astrophoto journal:

I thought that the view of comet Hale-Bopp over a cityscape would make a striking photograph.  There were only certain view angles and observing times that worked however.  To get the comet to hang over downtown Minneapolis in March, the time worked out to be around 3:00 am along a northeast line of sight.  Surprisingly few vantage points existed; the streets headed off in the wrong direction, or the view was obscured by trees,  buildings or streetlights. 

By checking street maps and making various late night explorations to the city,  I was quite excited to find this site at the south shore of Lake Calhoun.  The comet was in full view, the sky clear, air transparent.  I set up the camera and made a series of exposures, certain that one of them would capture the beautiful view.

The shot that got away

The next day I decided to wind off the end of the roll and reload the camera with a different film type.  This was when I discovered that there had been no film in the camera.  It was a very discouraging moment. 

The picture in your mind’s eye of a missed shot only gets better with time.  Over the next two weeks as I tried to recreate it, the lost picture gained a stature that could not have been met by any earthly conditions. 

No rest for the city

On these outings I found that the city never sleeps.  There are people out and about at all hours and my nocturnal activities seemed no more odd than the agendas of anyone else I encountered.  I watched night-time trampoliners, really early joggers, and others with more private intents.  It’s all part of a world detached from daylight but constantly illuminated.

Even though that first night’s view could not be reproduced, there were other views.  In the end I found this entirely different composition, still from the Calhoun shore, to be perhaps an even better image to capture my original intent.  Were it not for the missing film, I would have missed this picture.

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