Film recs for Green Bank Telescope?

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I'm visiting the NRAO's Green Bank Telescope in early October -- within a certain proximity the facility allows only analog camera use to prevent rf interference with the mission's sensitive measurements. I have a working Canon AE-1 and a few lenses I'll use, but as I haven't shot film since the early 80's I'm looking for recommendations with an eye towards digitization rather than print output. I'm expecting to shoot both mid-day and towards sunset and will need both fast and slower-speed films, but if you were shooting this today would you go with slide or negative film? Fuji vs. Kodak vs. X? Thanks!
 

JudyM

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My husband and I stopped at the Greenbank Observatory in May. We were pleasantly surprised by how fascinating a place it was to visit. Within the Visitor Center we were allowed to use digital cameras. To go beyond that we had to be on one of the guided tours, basically a van with a driver who took us around the facility. There were only two places that we were allowed out of the van: one just before entering the restricted zone where we were allowed one last shot with our digital cameras, and the other in front of the Robert C. Byrd telescope - we could not use our cameras there. Even with a non-digital camera, opportunities for photos will be limited to shooting through the van windows. From outside of the facility, you can see the telescopes from a couple of places along the highway. You can also see them from high up on some of the mountains.

I'd pick a slower film to take advantage of the finer grain and just use a tripod when the light gets low. I've always preferred Kodak films, since that's the standard that most labs gear their processing for, but that's a holdover from years ago when I worked in a lab. Slides vs. negatives depends on how you intend to digitize them.

I'm not trying to dominate your thread, but to give you an idea of views, focal lengths and distances:

From the highway leading to the facility, taken with the Zeiss 80-200mm:
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20140519_49 by j.murphy2, on Flickr

From the top of Bald Knob Mountain with the 14-45mm at 45mm:
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20140516_268 by j.murphy2, on Flickr

From the top of Bald Knob Mountain with the EF 400mm:
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20140516_272 (1) by j.murphy2, on Flickr

Through the window at the Visitor Center. 14-45mm at 45mm
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20140519_93 by j.murphy2, on Flickr

I believe this was from where we were allowed out of the van just outside the restricted area. 14-45mm at 45mm.
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20140519_91 by j.murphy2, on Flickr
 
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Thanks Judy, very much appreciate your shots and info, it's really helpful! I've been in contact with one of the NRAO visitor supervisors and have been told that we can be left at the GBT by the tour transport to be picked up by the next driver, which should give us some quality time.

As for digitization, I know you can have your color print film burned to CD, does anyone know if the same is available with slide film?
 

justin4192

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I was just there last month and I wish I had known we were permitted to walk around and take another shuttle back. I agree, it is a pretty cool place to tour. I had my E-M5 for the distant photos and then my Recesky 35mm kit toy camera which was useful since it has no electronics. This camera is one you build, is all plastic including lenses, and isn't about image quality. Here are a couple images from the Recesky:
<a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/justin_wolfe/15340823616" title="Green Bank Telescope by Justin, on Flickr">
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"424" height="640" alt="Green Bank Telescope"></a>

<a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/justin_wolfe/15177082689" title="Green Bank Telescope by Justin, on Flickr">
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"424" height="640" alt="Green Bank Telescope"></a>
 

JudyM

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For future visitors to this thread, turns out you can simply walk around the site, taking all the film shots you want -- we were there for about 5 hours. Waiting for my film to come back, but until then if anyone's curious my digital shots are here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/lewisfrancis/sets/72157648057311459/
It sounds like you had a much different experience than we did. We talked to the greeter in the visitor center, and we sat through the live demonstration in the auditorium. Nobody said anything about being allowed to walk around the facility. We were told we had to be on one of their vans to tour the site, and the tour itself was very controlled. Still, the visit was well worth our time and we enjoyed it. It's hard to imagine how big the telescopes are, until you see them in person. I highly recommend it if you're in that area.
 
Joined
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I was just there last month and I wish I had known we were permitted to walk around and take another shuttle back. I agree, it is a pretty cool place to tour. I had my E-M5 for the distant photos and then my Recesky 35mm kit toy camera which was useful since it has no electronics. This camera is one you build, is all plastic including lenses, and isn't about image quality. Here are a couple images from the Recesky:
<a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/justin_wolfe/15340823616" title="Green Bank Telescope by Justin, on Flickr">
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
"424" height="640" alt="Green Bank Telescope"></a>

<a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/justin_wolfe/15177082689" title="Green Bank Telescope by Justin, on Flickr">
Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
"424" height="640" alt="Green Bank Telescope"></a>
Love the dark and mysterious look the Recesky brings to the telescopes!
 
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It sounds like you had a much different experience than we did. We talked to the greeter in the visitor center, and we sat through the live demonstration in the auditorium. Nobody said anything about being allowed to walk around the facility. We were told we had to be on one of their vans to tour the site, and the tour itself was very controlled. Still, the visit was well worth our time and we enjoyed it. It's hard to imagine how big the telescopes are, until you see them in person. I highly recommend it if you're in that area.
They certainly don't advertise the fact that you can walk the facility, and I agree, it's difficult to process how truly huge the GBT is -- and then to see it move while barely making a sound over the telescope's ambient hum!
 
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Film scans came back, here are a couple from the set, taken with a small Olympus XA rangefinder with a 28mm lens. I had brought a Canon AE1 but the battery was strong enough to pass the battery test and meter but didn't actually have enough juice to power the shutter.

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Green Bank's 140-ft Telescope by lewisfrancis, on Flickr

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18790022-2 by lewisfrancis, on Flickr
 
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