Re: Tesla Coil Photography

-----Original Message-----
From: Tesla List <tesla-at-pupman-dot-com>
To: tesla-at-pupman-dot-com <tesla-at-pupman-dot-com>
Date: Thursday, July 29, 1999 2:40 PM
Subject: Tesla Coil Photography

>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
>I posted my "best" picture ( the one the shop bothered to print) at:
>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...
> Terry
Hi Terry,

Your biggest downfall is the 100 speed film. When I first started
photographing my coil I used 200 speed film and the results were crappy.
I got good results using 800 speed film. Try 2, 1, and .5 seconds. Use the
3.5 aperature. The longer the shutter speed the more streamers you will
capture. You have to experiment to see what you like best. A tripod or
several milk crates stacked up is an absolute must. I like to hang a black
velvet cloth behind my coil to hide my pigsty and make the streamers how up
good. I take my pictures just before sundown and also in almost but not
quite total darkness. I don't use incandescent light because I hate the
color distortion that it gives. Sorry I don't have a website to give you an
example, but I can assure you that you will not be disappointed with 800
speed film. If you can get 1000 speed try that too. I have never tried it
but my friend has and he gets great shots of coils in action. As you
experiment keep a log of what you did for each shot. Get small rolls at
first. You are going to have to waste a little bit of film,but in the long
run it's worth it (if you remember to take good notes).

Good luck!