Sunday, 26 February 2017

Eclipse 2017 - To Photograph or Not (Part 2)

In my previous blog entry I gave reasons NOT to photograph the total solar eclipse coming in August 2017. Now I want to clarify a few things starting with my answer to the question of whether or not to photograph the eclipse - just go ahead and do it.

My first total solar eclipse took place when I was a teenager. I was (and still am) an amateur astronomer. So as not to miss anything I came prepared. Telescope, binoculars, camera with zoom lens, extra film, tripod, cable release, thermometer, and hours of lunar photography practice under my belt.
About to loose my eclipse virginity in 1972.
I thought I could handle it, you know, teenage optimism. My plan was to watch 2nd contact, do a few pictures, scope out the view with binoculars, some more pictures, temperature reading, telescope views, pictures of 3rd contact. I had practiced in my back yard and it was easy to fit all that inside of two minutes. I figured the only difference was that it was to be on board a ship.

Of course, that is not how it went. The moving ship presented its own challenge. The view moved in and out of the telescope eyepiece. It did not stay centered in the camera. Add in the excitement of the total solar eclipse and the whole thing was overwhelming.

Eclipse 1972 - 210mm Pentax, 200 ASA Color film (Kodak)
I did follow some very good advice and not try to photograph second contact. Instead I watched it directly and looked through my telescope as the chromosphere slipped behind the lunar disk. It was spell binding! The coronal details, the prominences, and it was happening all too fast. 

After gazing at the eclipse in the telescope I snapped a few pictures with my 210mm camera lens set up on a tripod. A few, hah, I finished the roll in seconds! Modifying the exposure every time I took picture after picture and was dismayed not to have any film left as third contact took place.

Many of the pictures did not come out good. The trick was to time the picture at the top or bottom of the "wave" as the ship rolled and pitched in the sea. That was anticipated but did I think about that? No.

I watched a bit of third contact through the telescope catching the chromosphere emerging from behind the lunar limb. It is an amazing view!

All in all, I did not have time for my binoculars. The temperature reading was forgotten. Looking through the telescope was awesome enough, that is a view I will never forget. Two minutes of totality is just not enough. You don't have enough time to get to all the toys.

So, after hearing how splendid a total solar eclipse, why did I even try to photograph it? Well, you know, it was a total solar eclipse! I could not help myself. I had photographed the Moon, planets, star clusters, constellations, nebula, galaxies, and there was no way I was not going to try and photograph a total solar eclipse.

Do not use your flash! Silhouettes against the eclipse sky are great!

Are you going to photograph the eclipse? If so, I totally get it. Have fun! And do practice on the Moon in the coming months. Catch the Moon at all phases. That way you will be ready for the New Moon Phase on August 21st 2017!

For some more tips, visit my web page Top Ten Rules of eclipse photography.

1 comment:

  1. Solar Maestro its the answer,
    you watch the eclipse and camera makes the pictures in multiple exposures on it's own.