HOW TO PHOTOGRAPH THE EVENT
The appearance of a graceful comet hanging in the sky will stir your imagination and you will certainly want to capture this on film. The advantage of film is that it is much more sensitive to colour and light than your eye. Hence you can capture the comet in all its colourful glory as well as pick up fainter parts of the tail that is not seen visually.
It is rather simple to take successful night sky photographs and these are the basic requirements:
You will need to use a manual SLR camera capable of taking long time exposures. These cameras have a B setting on your exposure control. If you use an automatic SLR camera, be aware that it will use battery power when the shutter is open, so carry a spare battery.
The speed of film should be at least 400 but preferably 800 ASA. The faster film speeds such as 1600 or 3200 ASA are slightly grainier and more expensive but can capture more of the comet using less exposure time.
Pick a lens in the 28 to 50mm range and open the lens to its widest focal ratio (usually f/1.8). The smallest f/ratio the better as it allows more light into the camera. Lenses over 50mm usually are too slow for standard tripod photography and you will need to mount the camera onto a tracking telescope.
Should be sturdy enough so as not to shake during the exposure.
5. CABLE RELEASE
Is used to prevent the camera from jarring while starting and ending the exposure.
6. EXPOSURE TIME
Because of the Earth’s rotation, exposure times longer than 30 seconds with a 50mm lens will show trailed star images. Therefore 30 seconds is the magical figure which produces the best result.
7. DEVELOPING FILM
It is critical that your photo development store be aware that your precious photographs were taken at night. You may receive your photos back too dark or even discarded due to film fault! Speak to the store manager about this and give them an example photo of what to expect.
One final note. You might think it unwise to take photographs during moonlit periods. True, the end result is a blue background sky giving the appearance that the photo was taken during the daytime. However, should the comets be sufficiently bright enough, you can use moonlight to your advantage by having a foreground object such as a building, mountain, tree ect. add to the aesthetics.