Notes from Thor’s astrophoto journal:
This picture was taken with a Kiev-88, which is a Russian-made clone of a Hasselblad (a high quality camera that was taken to the moon). It uses the larger size 120 format film. A colleague suggested that this unused camera should be stored in my office instead of his. And since I had no use for it there, I decided I should try it out on one of my comet photo outings.
Not being very familiar with cameras of this type I made quite a few mistakes with film loading and handling, but this one survived. It was taken early on a Saturday, from the Hyland Park area in Bloomington.
The comet hour
The early hour was a characteristic of the comet’s schedule, not mine. Like all the other celestial objects, the comet rises in the east and sets in the west. At this point in its visit, the comet rose at 2:00 am and climbed the sky until the sun rose and washed it out in the dawn. There was a window of a few hours when it was at its photogenic best.
I had wandered around looking for a good viewpoint, and feeling the pressure of the coming dawn, stopped at a parking lot to make the last pictures I could before dawn.
I set up the camera, and since I was not yet sure of what exposures yield good results, I bracketed my shots, taking a series of pictures with increasing exposure times.
Early morning activity
In spite of the hour, there always seems to be someone out and about. As I had the shutter open and timing for a 2 minute exposure, a car turned onto the street in front of me and drove past. The headlights flared into the camera lens, a bright beam cut across the view, followed by the red glow of taillights.
I had begun to learn that unexpected events like this don’t necessarily mean that the shot is ruined. I completed the timing, closed the shutter and advanced the film.
On developing the film later, I found the frame where the car drove past. No sign of the car was there! Instead, a white line underscored the silhouetted buildings, and the details of the snowbanks in front of me were visible. It was an interesting effect, but in the end this is the exposure and composition I liked best.