My Best Analog Astrophotography

An Exciting Journey to the Starry Sky

Alfredo J.Alfredo J. | May 24, 2023 | Categories: astrophotography, film, 35mm, cinestill, kodak | Tags: astrophotography, milkyway, vialactea, astrofotografía, astro, sinaloa, altata, nikon, analog, film, kodak, porta 800, cinestill 800t, 35mm

My Best Analog Astrophotography

Centro Galáctico – 35mm film Kodak Portra 800

Step into a world where time slows down and the skies come alive. Join me on an extraordinary journey as I delve into the realm of analog astrophotography. Over the course of 2.5 years, I embarked on a mission to capture the awe-inspiring beauty of the Milky Way using a 35mm film camera. This is the story of my trials, triumphs, and the magical moments I experienced along the way.

The beginning

Cazando Cielos - Auto retrato

My journey began with a thirst for knowledge. I immersed myself in extensive research, scouring the corners of the internet for information on analog astrophotography. To my surprise, there was very little available. Undeterred, I embraced the challenge, knowing that this path would be filled with endless hours of trial and error.

The First Attempt

Constelación de Orión sobre la Isla de Altamura – Kodak Portra 800

Armed with my trusty Nikon F3, a vintage camera from the 1980s, I eagerly loaded my first roll of film. Excitement filled the air as I gazed upon the starry sky. Little did I know, the reciprocity failure of the film would prove to be a formidable obstacle. Short exposures resulted in disappointingly dark photos, with only a fleeting glimpse of the stars. Determined to overcome this hurdle, I pressed on.

The Discovery

Arco de la vía láctea levantándose sobre las playas de Nuevo Altata - Kodak Portra 800 + 1 paso

On my third attempt, armed with knowledge and a strategy, I set out on a mission to capture the splendid beauty of the Milky Way. With the help of a star tracker, I unlocked the secrets of long exposures on film. Gradually increasing the exposure time, I finally achieved satisfying results with exposures ranging from 5 to 10 minutes. The sense of accomplishment was truly exhilarating and fueled my determination to continue pushing the limits.

Arco de la vía láctea sobre las playas de Nuevo Altata - Kodak Portra 800 + 1 paso

This experience taught me that perseverance and experimentation are key in the world of analog astrophotography. I learned to adapt to technical challenges and find creative solutions to overcome them. Each failed attempt brought me closer to perfection, and each successful photograph became a testament to the hard work and passion I poured into this project. I am excited to continue exploring the wonders of the night sky and sharing my journey with fellow astrophotography enthusiasts.

Unveiling the Colors of the Cosmos

CineStill 800T

Centro galáctico - 35mm film CineStill 800T

Despite the doubts and skeptical voices surrounding the use of Cinestill 800T in astrophotography, I ventured to explore its possibilities. With the theory in mind that its reddish tones could be a hidden treasure in capturing the universe, I embarked on this journey. And let me tell you that the results exceeded all my expectations.

Centro galáctico - 35mm film CineStill 800T

As probably one of the first to use Cinestill 800T for astrophotography, I can affirm that this film is an unmissable choice. From the first test roll, I was amazed by how it captured nebulas and cosmic gases. Its unique qualities, such as sensitivity to hydrogen-alpha (h-alpha), added a dimension of color and life to my images that I simply cannot ignore.

Centro galáctico - 35mm film CineStill 800T

Cinestill 800T has quickly become my favorite choice for my astrophotography adventures. Its ability to enhance red tones and add a vibrant touch to nebulas has opened up a world of creative possibilities for me. Every time I use this film, I am thrilled with the quality and beauty I can capture in each frame.

Widefield Cygnus Loop - 35mm film CineStill 800T

Through my exploration with Cinestill 800T, I have discovered a new level of artistic expression in my photographs of the universe. Every time I use this film, I am amazed again and again by the richness of colors and life it brings to my captures. Without a doubt, it is an invaluable resource for those seeking to capture the magic and beauty of the celestial space in all its splendor.

Kodak Portra 800

Centro galáctico fotografiado con un kodak portra 800 35mm film

The Kodak Portra 800 has proven to be an exceptional choice for astrophotography. This incredible film reveals stunning and natural colors, immersing the starry sky in a captivating bluish tone. But its magic doesn't stop there. What truly stands out is its ability to highlight the vibrant tones of nebulas, capturing their essence in an astonishing way.

Centro galáctico fotografiado con un kodak portra 800 35mm film

With its sensitivity and ability to capture the subtle nuances of the universe, the Kodak Portra 800 has elevated my astrophotography images to a whole new level. Colors become more vibrant and details sharper, allowing me to convey the beauty and majesty of the cosmos in a unique way.

Centro galáctico fotografiado con un kodak portra 800 35mm film

Whether it's capturing the soft hues of nebulas or infusing the sky with a captivating bluish tone, the Kodak Portra 800 is a reliable companion in my quest to capture the wonders of the universe in every frame. Its outstanding performance in low-light conditions and ability to preserve subtle details make this film a perfect choice for astrophotography enthusiasts who want to take their images to the next level.

Kodak Portra 400

Rho Ophiuchi - Kodak Portra 400

The Kodak Portra 400, like its 800 counterpart, reveals stunning and natural colors. However, since it doesn't require pushing, longer exposures are needed, and I'm aware that I'm taking the risk of getting star trails in the photos. For the next attempt, I will use exposures of 25 and 30 minutes, but I will only use wide-angle lenses (14mm and 28mm) to decrease the risk of star trails.

Dancing with the Stars

Star trails de la vía láctea sobre el lago El Salgo – Kodak Portra 800

In my quest to explore the world of analog astrophotography, I embarked on an exciting new challenge: capturing the captivating trails of the stars. Instead of relying on digital stacking techniques, I decided to dive into the magic of long individual exposures. Armed with a good dose of patience, I set out to achieve exposures of up to an hour, freezing the Earth's rotation in stunning images. These mesmerizing photographs revealed the elegant celestial dance of the stars and left me in awe of the vastness and grandeur of the universe.

Startrails sobre un cuerpo de agua en el camino a El Tambor, Sinaloa - Kodak Portra 800

Immersing myself in this new approach to analog astrophotography was an exhilarating journey filled with discoveries. Each long exposure allowed me to capture the luminous trails of the stars, creating images that convey the sensation of celestial rotation. This experience left me captivated by the beauty and harmony of the cosmos, reminding me once again of the infinite grandeur that surrounds us.

Persistence in the Face of Adversity

Rollo fallido

As I continued my journey, my camera encountered its own technical challenges. One of my rolls came out lackluster due to a malfunction in the film advance mechanism. In complete darkness, I meticulously inspected and repaired the camera, determined to conquer the challenges that lay ahead. With each setback, my determination grew stronger.

The Unpredictable Beauty

Star trails causados por el error periódico del Star Tracker

Throughout my journey, I encountered the whimsical nature of star alignments. The periodic error, an inherent flaw in the Star Tracker, added an element of surprise to each capture. The unpredictable nature of this error bestowed a unique charm upon my photographs, keeping me in suspense as to which images would reveal perfectly defined stars and which would showcase the trails of their celestial journey.


Vía láctea levantándose sobre el lago El Salto – Composición Astrofotografía en film 35mm

As I embarked on my analog astro-photography journey, I decided to explore new possibilities and challenge myself. That's when the idea of creating a composite image in the style of digital astro-photography using analog format emerged. I wanted to capture both the detailed foreground and the majestic starry sky in a single frame.

Diagrama de Composición - Astro fotografía en film de 35mm

To achieve this, I used a 1.5-hour long-exposure photograph to capture all the details and textures of the foreground. Then, I took a tracked photograph for 20 minutes to capture the magnificence of the Milky Way and the moving stars. The real magic happened when I combined both images using blending techniques on my computer.

![Vía láctea levantándose sobre el lago El Salto – Composición Astrofotografía en film 35mm]

This endeavor of composition in 35mm film is relatively uncharted territory, and I am thrilled to be one of the pioneers in carrying it out. Through this technique, I was able to capture the beauty and harmony of both elements, merging them into an image that evokes the wonder of the universe in a single shot.

![Vía láctea levantándose sobre el lago El Salto – Composición Astrofotografía en film 35mm]

However, my curiosity and spirit of experimentation don't stop here. I am planning to take this technique to the next level by attempting to create the composition directly in the camera through a double exposure. I know that this will require time, dedication, and a lot of practice, but I am willing to embark on this exciting adventure to achieve it.

Vía láctea levantándose sobre el lago El Salto – Composición Astrofotografía en film 35mm

So stay tuned, because soon I'll be able to share with you the results of my efforts in taking film astrophotography to new heights with surprising and unique compositions. The sky is the limit, and I'm ready to explore it in every frame!


Vía láctea sobre el lago El Salto, de la presa Aurelio Benassini, en Sinaloa – Kodak Portra 800

As I reflect on my incredible journey of analog astrophotography, a deep sense of gratitude fills me for the challenges I have faced. The countless hours of research, the persistence in the face of setbacks, and the unwavering passion have allowed me to unveil the wonders of the night sky on film. Through the lens of my Nikon F3, I have captured the magical essence of the universe, transporting myself to a world where time stands still and the stars come to life.

Technical Stuff

Nikon F3 sobre SkyWatcher Star Adventurer


📸 Nikon F3

Film emulsions

🎞 CinesTill 800T 🎞 Kodak Portra 400 🎞 Kodak Portra 800

Star trackers

🌐 iOptron Star Tracker 🌐 SkyWatcher Star Adventurer