Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Photographing the Solar Eclipse? PRACTICE!

If you want to get some nice pictures of the Total Solar Eclipse, you need to practice. Sounds like a good idea, but how do you practice for something like that?!

Canon SX60HS 1350mm EFL handheld

There really isn't anything quite like a total solar eclipse. The experience of seeing one is quite special. You will experience an adrenaline rush and time will seem to fly by quickly. Two minutes may seem like plenty of time, but just wait until you see that corona shining up in the sky around a black hole where the Sun used to be shining. For myself, it was not until my fifth total solar eclipse that my hands were not shaking slightly as I ran a camera attached to a telescope. It is an exciting couple of minutes. My best advice to everyone is to just watch and enjoy it. Yet, like myself, many will want to image the eclipse.

What can you practice on? The Moon! Take pictures of the lunar phases, showing the whole moon with plenty of room around it. For the eclipse, the Moon will be the "black hole" in the middle. The corona around it will be the object of interest. So your images of the Moon should only take up half or less of the image frame.

1000mm Canon SX60HS camera, handheld
Taking pictures of the Moon is great practice and can be very rewarding. Try it during different times and phases, even in the day light.

Crescent phases can be very enlightening. The brightness of the lit portion is easy to over expose when trying to capture the Earthshine. Totality is much the same. To capture the outer corona you must over expose the inner corona. And to get the inner corona you will over expose the prominences. What you can practice during the lunar crescent phases is manipulating your camera settings in the dark and eventually without even looking. Most digital cameras tell you the settings as they are adjusted in the display however you might not want to look at that display too long. Learning how to manipulate everything without looking allows you to look at the eclipse.

Another great practice target is to take pictures of the sunset. This allows you to practice wider field views of extreme variable brightness.

Sunset over the sea
And if you really want to practice eclipse conditions, try capturing the Green Flash at sunset! This takes split second timing on your behalf. If you see it in the view finder, you did not get the image and that is very much like imaging beads and the chromosphere.

Green flash, zoomed in 1365mm EFL
The more you can practice with your camera and lens rig, the better you will be prepared for the eclipse event and the better chance you have of getting an image you can be proud to share with others.

Just remember, no image is like the real thing when it comes to total solar eclipses. It is an experience and even after you have experienced a couple, it is a lot of fun and amazing to see.

More photography tips at: https://www.eclipse-chasers.com/photo/Photo.shtml

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