Frequently Asked Questions
- Do you sell prints of your photos?
No, sorry, at this time I am not selling prints.
- Can I use one of your images in my publication?
All of the images on Joe Orman's Photo Pages are available as high-resolution digital files for publication. See my High-Resolution Images Page for a few examples of high-resolution images I can send you immediately by e-mail attachment, FTP, or on CD-ROM.
Contact me by e-mail to to make arrangements:
When inquiring about a particular photo, please include the exact web address (URL). Merely referring to "your photo that I saw on the web" isn't enough; I have hundreds of different photos on many different web sites.
Note: All of the images on Joe Orman's Photo Pages are copyrighted, which means you must secure my permission BEFORE downloading, altering, or using them in any way.
To see a list of my previously-published photos, click here.
- What exposure did you use on a particular photo?
The exposure information is included with almost all of the photos. If it's not, I probably didn't keep a record of it when I took the picture. If you need other advice that you can't find on my Photo Tips or Twilight Exposure Table pages, or just want to know more about how I took a particular photo, contact me.
- How much digital manipulation do you perform on your images?
First, let me emphasize that all of the photos that you see on my web site are REAL. That is, each scene is "as the camera saw it" and recorded it on film. Even the multiple-exposures were done "in the camera." None of the photos are composites or employ any kind of digital trickery.
Nonetheless, some post-scanning retouching is unavoidable. I have tried to limit my digital manipulation to correcting physical byproducts of the processes of taking the photo and developing the film. Mostly, this consists of touching out dirt and scratches. Very rarely, I have also removed a streak left by a passing airplane during a long exposure. And, also rarely, I have touched up artifacts introduced by the lens, including coma (elongated star images) and internal reflections.
I have no problem with photographers who manipulate their photos for artistic or illustrative purposes, but I think it is misleading or even deceptive not to label the result as such. I fear that the public has gotten so used to image manipulation that they don't believe the real thing when they see it. I use my photography to get people to look at the sky with their own eyes; I want them to know that plenty of real wonders are waiting there for them.
- What filters did you use to get such rich colors?
Again, the colors you see are REAL. Every film has its own color characteristics, so I can't claim the colors captured by my camera are identical to how the eye would see the scene, but I do not use colored filters. Besides the standard skylight filter (which is practically color-neutral), the only filters I use (and those only occasionally, and in each case noted in the exposure information) are a polarizing filter to increase sky contrast and a solar filter to reduce the direct light of the sun.
After scanning, I try to adjust the color balance and saturation only as necessary to make the digital image match the original slide. By necessity, there is some subjectivity in this process, since a projector screen and a computer monitor are two very different media. But I do not intentionally manipulate the color to make the image more dramatic.
Likewise, if I use a flash to illuminate the foreground of many photos, it is almost always a white flash and is noted in the exposure information. I used colored gels on the flash in only one of the photos.
- What are the specs on your Nikon Coolscan LS-10E and LS-2000 35mm film scanners?
There are plenty of places on the web where you can find this information. And no, I can't compare them to other scanners or tell you whether you should buy one.
- What kind of camera should I buy?
If you want to take night photos, I recommend a completely manual 35mm SLR camera (like my Olympus OM-1) that allows you to set the focus, aperture, and exposure time manually. Practically no one makes them anymore, so you'll probably have to buy a used one. Some of the newer cameras may allow you to override the automatic features. Avoid those that use the camera's battery to hold the shutter open; this will drain the battery during long exposures.
Recently, digital SLR's have become available that can perform as well as (or better than) film cameras in low-light photography. But don't ask me about them or any other digital cameras because I don't know much about them. Again, you can find that information elsewhere on the web.
- What is the "homemade tracker" that was used to take some of your photos?
I can't divulge the schematic or machining plans, because I may want to publish an article some day, but here are a few general details:
I don't have a telescope with a drive mount, so I made my own tracking German Equatorial Mount for just my 35mm camera. I co-developed it with a friend (we are both electrical engineers). The mount (machined by another friend of ours who has a metal-working shop) is essentially a precision-bearing-mounted shaft which is polar aligned with a finder scope, and driven by a 1 revolution/day (at 60 Hz) AC synchronous motor. The correct frequency for the sidereal rate (60.164 Hz) comes from a drive corrector that we built based on the article "A Crystal-Controlled Oscillator for Telescope Drives" in the August 1975 Sky & Telescope magazine (we updated the schematic to use modern IC's). The mount and corrector cost me a lot of time (I did all the soldering myself) and about $220 total for parts & machining labor, so if you can find something commercially in that price range it might be worth it. There used to be a place called Vista Instrument Company in California that sold similar mounts & drive correctors, but they went out of business several years ago.
The accuracy of my system depends on polar alignment, tracking rate, and periodic error in the motor gearbox. I have a well-aligned finder scope on the mount, so I can get quite good polar alignment, probably within 0.2 degrees. I use the tracking rate given in a chart in the Sky & Tel article (which corrects for atmospheric refraction), so the tracking is quite accurate because the corrector is crystal-controlled and adjustable in .001 Hz steps by thumbwheel switches. So the final accuracy of my system is probably limited by the periodic error of the motor gearbox; I've found I can get good results in exposures up to 5 minutes with a 200mm lens, and about 30 minutes with a 50mm lens.
Here's the info on the motor:
Marking on motor:
Hansen (Hanson?) of Princeton, Indiana (812-385-3000).
Herbach & Rademan Co.
16 Roland Avenue
Mt. Laurel, NJ 08054
Cost from H&R at the time (1997): $28.50 + $5.95 shipping.
Specs: Synchronous ac motor, 110VAC, 3W, 60Hz, 1 revolution/24 hours, 20 in-oz torque @ 1RPM (?), clockwise looking at shaft.
Synchron, Inc. Part Number: S10 I12RK-6 (That's a capital "i" before the 12).
H&R Part Number: H1-51.
Revised: November 4, 2009
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