Saturday, 29 August 2015

Eclipse 2016: Wide angle

For the total solar eclipse of March 2016 we will be on board a ship in Indonesian waters. Shipboard photography of a total solar eclipse is not as "straight forward" as land based photography. The platform is moving under you and that means that the camera is not going to track the eclipse unless you come up with a mount that counters such movements.

Some tips for photographing eclipses at sea can be found by clicking here.

In the past I have always used longer focal length lenses (200mm on up to 1300mm) to get images of the corona and prominences. The view through the eyepieces of a good set of binoculars cannot be captured by modern cameras and after trying over a dozen times I have come to face this reality. I've seen numerous images that are the result of some post processing that attempt to capture that view, but sadly they fail even though they are magnificent.

2015 Eclipse composite image by Fred Espenak, Mr Eclipse
In 2012 I tried to catch a wide angle view with a hand held camera and the results were quite interesting.

2012 Total Solar Eclipse at sea, wide angle lens
Thus I have decided that for the next eclipse I want to use a wide angle and capture the atmosphere of the eclipse. And to do that I thought video would be best. Previous eclipses have been captured using the GoPro camera and these videos show the fantastic changes that take place all around you during totality. And by shooting wide angle, the movement of the ship is not longer an issue. Sure, you will see the background and eclipsed Sun moving, but just a little. The key is to catch people in the foreground as well as the sounds they make during the eclipse.

With luck a video can be made that captures the atmosphere of the eclipse. We'll see!

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