Forty Five Minute Exposure at Old Gorge on Kodachrome 25

Forty Five Minute Exposure at Old Gorge on Kodachrome 25

Back in the day, I’d attempt to make long exposures on Kodachrome 25. I was facing a nearly insurmountable wall of diminishing returns, because of this film’s reciprocity curve it suffered very poor low-light sensitivity. In extremely low light (when minimum exposure times were calculated to be longer than about 5 minutes), K25’s effective ISO rating approached zero.

SP_at_Gorge_105mm_45min_exposure_KM_Brian Solomon 234642

This view was made on the west slope of Donner Pass using my Nikon F3T fitted with an f1.8 105mm lens (opened to f1.8) and firmly mounted on a Bogen 3021 tripod. I opened the shutter to allow for the passing of westward SP freight. The head-end headlights and oscillating lights helped illuminate the setting, while the light streaks were largely the result of the helper at the back.

At the left, you can see the lights of Sacramento, California, more than 50 miles away and some 2,000 feet lower. What’s missing is the tremendous sense of elevation and the vast depth of the American River Canyon at the left. Here we have empty black space.

The scene was cosmic. The sound show was sublime. My slide? Not so great. In a situation like this one, Provia 100F would have performed much better, but it didn’t exist then. Today’s Digital cameras would be vastly superior. Compare this view, to the images I made at State Line Tunnel back in February.

See: State Line Tunnel by the Light of the Moon.(<—This is a link, click it to see great night photos!)

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2 comments on “Forty Five Minute Exposure at Old Gorge on Kodachrome 25

  1. Fuji’s Provia-100F was a vast improvement over earlier films for low-light night photography, as Mel Patrick discovered in the mid-1990s. Not only did this film feature a much improved low-light reciprocity curve (which allowed for the capture of stars in the night sky with comparatively shore exposures), but the introduction of filter layers allow the film to counter the negative effects of florescent and mercury vapor lights. The filters countered the ‘spike’ that causes these artificial light sources to appear excessively yellow or green on film.
    Modern digital sensors have made even greater improvements in light capture, although some still suffer from the ability to handle situations with exceptional contrast.


  2. Brian Jennison on said:

    K64 worked a little better in these situations; it retained the black sky. In my experience, E-6 films picked up more ambient light and the sky could turn sort of a shade of green in a long exposure…

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