August 21, 2017 Total Solar Eclipse
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The first time I heard about it was in early July.
“Hey, you planning on taking any pictures of the solar eclipse next month?” a friend asked as I was packing up after the Sacramento Family Conference Photography Team.
“An Eclipse? No. Sounds interesting.” My August schedule was busy. I wasn’t interested in fitting in anything else.
He probably felt like asking, “Have you been living under a rock?”
Initially, I had no intention of going to see totality. Why? The only mental picture I had associated with “eclipse” was the less-exciting-than-expected lunar eclipses I had tried to photograph in the past.
A total solar eclipse did sound more interesting though, especially after researching it a bit. But still, it sounded expensive. Doesn’t solar photography require specialized equipment? And the longest lens I had was 200mm. How could I expect to get anything worth keeping? Leave it to the professionals. Then there was the location factor. In northern West Virginia, I was 8+ hours from the closest points on the path of totality. And by now, I was quickly finding out, it was way too late to find any place to stay.
So I dismissed it from my mind. I contented myself with watching it in partiality with borrowed eclipse glasses with my family in the backyard.
But then things took an unexpected turn. . . .
A photographer from Ohio said he might be interested in traveling down with me if I decided to go. Another family from Ohio said the same thing.
I looked into lodging a little more closely. The path of totality passed right over the home of family in North Carolina. I shot them an email. They were already expecting guests and had rented out the apartment above their garage . . . but they said they could fit us in if we wanted!
So I said, “We want to!”
By now I had done more research. It wasn’t as big a deal as I thought it was going to be to photograph it. And with the addition of just a single sheet of solar film, I felt confident I could photograph it well enough with the equipment that I had. And since I could carpool with other photographers, that helped to justify the expense.
Oddly enough, both photographers from Ohio canceled last minute. And I would have canceled too if it hadn’t been for the even-later-than-last-minute decision for the family from New York coming down and pick me up on their way down.
And so, that’s how I got to totality!
But really, that was when the story began for me. I still had the challenge of making a good photograph of the eclipse ahead of me.
And I was nervous.
I had done plenty of research ahead of time, but there’s nothing like actually living through that experience of actually doing it. And it turned out quite differently than I expected!
I have finally finished writing down all my field notes from photographing that epic event!
In the article, learn:
- My final conclusions on solar photography safety
- 6 mistakes to avoid for maximizing the enjoyment of your eclipse photography experience
- How I created my own home-made solar filter
- What it was like to run two different cameras during the eclipse
- Exactly what exposure settings I used to photograph each phase of the eclipse
- How I bracketed totality
- My favorite eclipse photo merging method
- Behind the scenes before/after shots of the Diamond Ring shot
Hopefully, I’ll be better prepared for the next total solar eclipse when it crosses the US once again on April 8, 2024!