Until the advent of CCD's, conventional film was the main medium used by amateurs to record astronomical objects . I started astronomical photography about 1970 with black & white films such as Tri-X, push processed and printed on high contrast paper to reveal as much detail as possible. I owe most of my thanks to former LAS member Bob Halliday who promoted great interest in astrophotography within the Liverpool Astronomical Society. Bob spent many hours experimenting with film and developers to get the best results, one of his best series of photographs was of comet Bennett in 1970 - a great comet like Hale-Bopp.
Although I started in 1970, most of my best photographs were taken from the mid 1980's onwards on slide film. Around 1980 I bought an ex aerial photography lens, a 178mm f2.5 Aero Ektar lens. I mounted this to fit a 35mm camera body and guided it on a Vixen Polaris mount with either a 6" f6, or 4" f4.5 reflector. This system worked very well and traveled to the excellent skies over mount Teide in Tenerife in April 1986 for the apparition of Halley's comet.
The images below are a selection taken with the 178mm, my 14" reflector or a 55mm f2 'standard' lens on films such as hypered Tech Pan 2415 (also see this page) and Scotch Chrome 1000 slide film, which was a good film for it's day despite giving a greenish background. Images were scanned from prints by myself or directly from the negatives by Tony Williams. The full sized images can be opened by clicking on the thumbnails.
M51 taken from Liverpool on hypered Technical Pan film and a 40 minute exposure. A sodium rejection filter was used. This image was taken with the galaxy near the zenith on a transparent night with good seeing resulting in sharp details for 20+ years ago.
One of my favourite open clusters is NGC 7789 in Cassiopeia. Comprising 11th to 18th mag stars according to Burnham's Celestial Handbook, the cluster is easily seen in binoculars on a clear dark night and comes to life in a small telescope with a low power.
This image was taken on gas hypered TP2415 film and a 15 minute exposure.
The eastern portion of the veil nebula in Cygnus. One of the longest exposures taken with the 14" at 55 minutes, this image records many fine filamentary details in this supernova remnant. Widely regarded as difficult to see visually, I have seen it frequently in 10x50 binoculars from dark sites - you just have to know where to look and it pops out! Hypered TP2415 and the Lumicon H-Alpha pass filter were used to combat the severe light pollution and enhance the hydrogen emission details.
Halley's comet. This has to be one of my favourite
photographs. Taken from Tenerife on 15th April 1986 with the 178mm f2.5 Aero Ektar lens, a
5.5 minute exposure on Tri-X film.
The frame includes Centaurus A (NGC 5128) to the lower left of the comet and Omega Centauri at bottom left. Halley did not sport it's best tail at this time but a fanned dust tail and straight gas tail can be seen in this image. The seeing was better than 1 arc sec during the night this was taken.
Little known IC1396 is a large red emission nebula in Cepheus near the star mu Cephei (lower right of the nebula in this image) IC 1396 shows up as a large red patch on many colourslide images. This image was taken from fellow LAS member Andrew Bate's farm in the Cheshire countryside with a 30 minute exposure, a Lumicon H-alpha pass filter and hypered TP2415 film.
The famous North American nebula in Cygnus, NGC 7000 and the 'Pelican Nebula' IC5067-70 to the west. This image was taken from COAA in 1992 on hypered Tech Pan 2415 film. A deep red Lumicon H-Alpha Pass filter was used to enhance the red emission nebulosity. The exposure was 20 minutes.
Messier 8 and M20 in Sagittarius. This image was taken from Tenerife during the Halley's comet trip in 1986. A 7 minute exposure at f2.5 using Scotch 1000 slide film. The greenish background colour has not been corrected.