COMET HALE-BOPP PHOTOGRAPHY
by Jim and Karen Young (W7FTT & N6PJL)
February - May, 1997
Some of you may know that I always keep very careful records whenever I do anything! This
was no exception, indeed. I had planned on doing extensive photography with this comet, so
it was easy to keep good records from the beginning.
Although both of us had seen the comet way back in 1995, just after it was first discovered,
we did not begin our photography until February 10, 1997. Over the years I have done mostly
color negative work, but this year I decided to use Kodak Ektachrome P-1600 color slide film
and process it myself. I bought an excellent JOBO color processor, and found the effort to
process color slides wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. Oh, that doesn't mean I didn't
make a few mistakes! I have several poor quality slides processed in chemicals that were too
old, but I have learned that fresh chemicals are the only way to go, regardless of all other
In 84 days (February 9 to May 4, 1997) I traveled over 9400 miles in 55 separate trips, as I
visited 29 different locations for everything associated directly with Comet Hale-Bopp. This
included 31 different nights to photograph the comet at 29 different locations. There were 3
lectures given along with 7 different star parties either given or attended. Karen was not
able to be with me on every occasion, but she was at all the star parties and lectures. In
fact, she gave her part of the lectures, and used her telescope at all those events. In all,
there were approximately 1300 people that attended our sponsored/planned lectures and star
parties. Our most frequently used (12) photographic site was in the Ord Mountains, 80 miles
east of Wrightwood. I made 6 trips to Death Valley National Park, and it was at Furnace
Creek that we had our greatest planned group. We gave a presentation to some 500 people,
and used 2 telescopes to view the comet for two hours after it got dark at this location.
I spent a total of 411 hours for all circumstances, which included 52 actual hours doing all
the photography. 43 hours were spent in the darkroom, and 21 hours at the star parties. The
time spent driving was 174 hours. I used a total of 19 rolls of film!
I spent just over 2 BIG bills for expenses; a BIG bill has Grover Cleveland's picture on it!
It was well worth it!!!
We used 2 different Zeiss Ikon cameras, along with Zeiss lenses: 21 mm f/4, 35 mm f/2, 55 mm
f/1.4, 135 mm f/4 and 250 mm f/4. All pictures were taken using my own modified Ed Byers
'Cam-Trak' and was battery operated from either the car or the small 'ham' radio power packs.
On April 11, both of us attended the gigantic "Comet Chasers" star party on the CalTech
campus in Pasadena. We had the opportunity to meet with Alan Hale and Thomas Bopp, along with
Dave Levy, Don Yeomans and Paul Choate and about 2000 people who attended. During the public
auditorium presentation, many of our photographs were used during the program as backdrops.
We hope to have several additional comet pictures soon, so keep checking the site.
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