Re: Tesla Coil Photography

Terry, my first thought is that you might want to get a handheld light
meter--the kind used for photography.  While I have always had one
available to me and have thus never had to buy one, I don't think
they're that expensive.

Certainly a 3.5 aperature seems to be overkill since you don't need that
much depth of field.  I've used 2 or 2.8 in the past with 800 color
film.  This may be obvious but the best way I found is to use the
shotgun approach with shutter times. I got a 12 exp. roll, started at
1/4 sec shutter, then 1/2, 1, 2, 4, etc.  Be sure to write down each
frame's aperature and shutter setting.  Get them developed and just find
the one that seems to look the best to you. 

Your pic doesn't look too bad, but you probably will want to use a
tripod ;)  General rule of thumb is at 1/60 sec or slower you're asking
for shake blur and by 1/15 you will get blurring unless you have ultra
steady hands

I also usually block the spark gap with something dark as it is usually
much brighter than the streamers and you either end up with really dim
streamers or bright streamers with a huge white dot where the spark gap

Hopefully this helps some.


Tesla List wrote:
> Original Poster: Terry Fritz <twftesla-at-uswest-dot-net>
> Hi All,
> My pictures of streamers did not turn out well and I could use a little
> advise...
> I posted my "best" picture ( the one the shop bothered to print) at:
> http://www.peakpeak-dot-com/~terryf/tesla/misc/phototry.jpg
> This was hand held, florescent lights without the florescent filter, ASA
> 100 film, 3.5 aperture, the camera was controlling the exposure (thank
> goodness, or it may have turned out bad :-))....
> First let me tell you what I have...
> Minolta X-700 manual camera that seems to like working around TCs.
> Has auto exposure and aperture priority which is probably not of any use
> for TC work...
> Minolta 35-70 Macro lens with speeds of 3.5-22.
> Minolta 1:1.4 lens with speeds from 1.4 to 16.
> Kodak Royal Gold 400 and 1000 speed film.
> Tripods, popular filteres, and flex shutter cable.
> So.... I should be set, but...  I am NOT the worlds greatest photo guy.  I
> have read the books and even take "Popular Photography" but I am just not a
> "natural" at such things...  I get all the technical stuff and I have a
> good understanding of what all the setting do but the "skill and
> experience" factor is a definite problem...
> For the last set of attempted pictures, I used 100 speed film with the 3.5
> aperture.  The exposure was about 5 seconds using the "one Mississippi, two
> Mississippi" timing method with the camera hand held and working the variac
> with the other hand...  I will use the tripod and flex shutter cable next
> time...  One problem was that the film and lens speed (100, 3.5) were not
> great enough for an arc to burn an image on the film with the available RMS
> light from the arc.  Thus, I figure, faster film and perhaps the 1.4 lens
> are needed (I have been reading the archives on this).  If there is enough
> ambient light for the camera electronics to do the exposure, it does a good
> job light wise but the streamers seems dim (with 100 speed film) thus I
> guess the 400 speed would be much better (I have 1000 too).
> Sooo...  I have the "stuff" and know "some" things but I was just wondering
> if anyone had any suggestion as to the film, aperture, time... (especially
> the time!!) settings to get me into the ballpark for a sort of dark room.
> I realize that there are variables and I'll have to try things, but I seem
> pretty darn far away at the moment...  The room is usually pretty dark but
> I can make out the coil and other objects ok so it is not pitch black...
> Any advice is welcome.  I hate to go through a bunch of sessions and film
> just to START getting reasonable pictures...
> Thanks,
>         Terry