Solar eclipse tips

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#1
Mesa, AZ
2,191 Posts
Joined Jul 2009
I'm going to get a great view of Sundays solar eclipse, 92% coverage before sunset. Anybody have any experience doing this?

I want to get some shots, nothing super detailed with surface features, just edge-sharp images showing the progression of the event.

I practiced tonight a little, just to see if I could even get close. With a stack of three ND filters over my 55-200 lens, at f22 and 1/4000, the images are fairly encouraging. I wasn't taking notes, just trying different settings to see if it was possible, tomorrow I'll take more time and notes and nail down the exact parameters.

I need to do that because in about half the images there is a prominent ghost, but in some there isn't any. Not sure why but have a couple theories- where the sun is on the frame, zoom level, etc.

Now the questions:

I love trying time lapses, but any wider than 55mm and the sun is tiny, and I don't think I would be able to capture 2 hours of sun movement without moving the camera at some point, and I've learned that is bad in a time lapse. I guess in an 8x10 or larger you could see the changes, but was hoping somebody has experience they can share.

Or, ditch the time lapse idea and zoom in for some frame filling images. Another big problem is focusing. Auto focus doesn't work. Obviously I don't look through the dslr eyepiece. I can get the sun on the frame, and I go from the stop and turn it incrementally, but no real difference in sharpness on the display until it is way out of focus. Is there a trick, or at f22 it won't make a big difference?

Lastly, as things dim down over the course of an hour, what would be the best way to plan for compensation of this. Do I remove filters or just use shutter speed and/or aperture to compensate?

Soooooo, any and all ideas, help, etc. is appreciated. I am an astronomy nut and am well aware of the dangers of what I am attempting. All prudence and precautions are being taken, rest assured.
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#2
Happy Valley, Oregon
675 Posts
Joined Oct 2006
I'm certainly no expert but your question sent me searching. I found this site that might be helpful.
http://www.zullophoto.com/azstory201...areclipse.html
It has some interesting pictures and advice of how to get them.

Thanks for bringing this to our attention!

Vic
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#3
Mesa, AZ
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Vic, you are my HERO! I thought I could Google, but never came across that site - it's fantastic, and pertinent to our area. Are you going to try also?
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#6
Happy Valley, Oregon
675 Posts
Joined Oct 2006
Originally posted by shootr
Vic, you are my HERO! I thought I could Google, but never came across that site - it's fantastic, and pertinent to our area. Are you going to try also?
I had to laugh, I have a good friend that says if she ever needs a kidney she's going to have me google for one! I'm definitely going to try some pictures, I'm way south (almost to Nogales) so I won't have the whole ring of fire - but the timing should be great. Like I said, thanks for the idea!

Vic
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#7
Anchorage, Alaska
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Originally posted by Victress2007
I'm definitely going to try some pictures, I'm way south (almost to Nogales) so I won't have the whole ring of fire - but the timing should be great. Like I said, thanks for the idea!

Vic
It will be a bit dismal in Anchorage although still going for a shot!
#8
Mesa, AZ
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Joined Jul 2009
Originally posted by Chilkoot
It will be a bit dismal in Anchorage although still going for a shot!
How 'bout we trade weather forecasts? Looks like Anchorage will still get at least half coverage, bet you get some good ones.
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#9
Happy Valley, Oregon
675 Posts
Joined Oct 2006
Originally posted by shootr
How 'bout we trade weather forecasts? Looks like Anchorage will still get at least half coverage, bet you get some good ones.
Our forecast is for 100 - give or take a couple of degrees - but it's a dry heat! It still feels like an oven to me (I've lived in 16 states). Our low will be your high - mid 60s. That's why so many of us are leaving on cruises for June or July - the hottest months.

Vic
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#10
Mesa, AZ
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This is the time lapse from last nights practice: (Click to go full screen, it seems less jumpy that way)

http://s266.photobucket.com/albums/i...clipsetest.mp4

That is 891 frames shot 6 sec. apart and stitched together at .04sec/image. The jiggles are from careless bumping, and the drop out was a marker I put in the sequence when max coverage should occur. Towards the end I tapered from 1/4000 to 1/2500.

This covers the start to the horizon, about 90 minutes +/-. From this test I now have:
Location confirmed (pretty desert in the foreground, even though won't be visible in timelapse, it might be in the multi exposure composite)
Exact path/direction confirmed
All camera settings
How much vertical and horizontal movement to plan for

So, I'll be at 35mm on my vertically oriented dslr with (starting closest to the lens) polarizer, #8,#4, and finally #2 ND filters stacked on the lens. F22 at 1/2500 settings. Full manual, turned off autofocus, image stabilization, etc.

Only decision I'm still pondering is to zoom in to 45-50mm, and capture the eclipse in two parts. That zoom would be enough to capture start to midpoint, then readjust aim and finish from max eclipse to the horizon. If I get good shots from either of the other two cameras I'll have with me, I'd edit in a closeup of the max eclipse as a transition.

Lastly, how the heck do you "stack" separate images into one frame that shows the progression of the eclipse in steps??? Nothing in PSE10 is jumping out at me yet, I haven't tried my astronomy image stacker yet, and don't know if that will work since it is trying to stack lit pixels, not ignore than, but we'll see. Just wondering if there is anything obvious that I'm missing so far.
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#11
Mesa, AZ
2,191 Posts
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Originally posted by Victress2007
Our forecast is for 100 - give or take a couple of degrees - but it's a dry heat! It still feels like an oven to me (I've lived in 16 states). Our low will be your high - mid 60s. That's why so many of us are leaving on cruises for June or July - the hottest months.

Vic
We're looking at 105 Sunday, not a cloud predicted and the smoke from the current forest fires are north of the eclipse. Chilkoot is in the weather catbirds seat this time of year, for sure!

Just tried the astronomy image stacker. As I feared, it wants to stack all the solar images (that's what it is designed to do), but figured it was worth a try.
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#12
Mesa, AZ
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Well, by copying each image out of each picture and pasting it onto one master image, it looks like it will work that way. Just have to eyeball the spacing and direction. Should look cool overlayed onto a properly exposed desert background. I'm getting a little excited now!
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#13
Anchorage, Alaska
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Originally posted by shootr
We're looking at 105 Sunday, not a cloud predicted and the smoke from the current forest fires are north of the eclipse. Chilkoot is in the weather catbirds seat this time of year, for sure!
After the snowiest winter on record and very cold this year we're due. Should be in the mid 60's. You can have 105. No trade.
#14
Happy Valley, Oregon
675 Posts
Joined Oct 2006
I have a point and shoot camera with a 16x zoom. I won't be shooting through a telescope, just at intervals until sunset. Do I need some kind of a filter? I don't use one when shooting sunsets but this event starts well before sunset. If I do need a filter do you thing some kind of polarized sunglasses filter would work for this purpose?

I'll go out in 1/2 an hour or so and scout my location. I'm trying to figure out if it's worth the trouble to go up the hill a couple miles to catch more of the event. The sun goes down behind the mountains fairly early. (we have mountains both east and west of us).

Thanks,
Vic
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#15
Washington, DC
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Joined Apr 2008
Shootr - Load your images as layers in photoshop. ( I am not exactly sure how that is done in Elements. Try selecting all of them in the organizer and see if right clicking on them gives you the option to load as layers.) When you have all loaded into layers change the layer blend mode of each to "Lighten." That will allow the brightest part of each layer to show through. It is technique to create "star trails."

Larry

Edit. Your video is nice. If that is shot at 35mm, IMHO, the sun is kind of small to really see the eclipse. Think about a longer lens?

Have fun!
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#16
Washington, DC
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Shootr, I now can visualize what you are aiming for. In the method I described above, just eliminate several layers (images) so that you have a gap between full images of the sun. That way you will have complete images of the sun arcing down and not a trail like a star trail image.

Larry
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#17
Mesa, AZ
2,191 Posts
Joined Jul 2009
Hi Larry,

Thanks for the PS idea, will look into that. If I take every 50th frame of the time lapse shots, the separation is perfect.

I'm shooting digital, Canon Rebel xi. Thats what's bugging me most, balancing how far I can zoom in, and still capture a complete transition without moving the camera. I wasn't ideally set up during that, but now that I have a good idea of how much sky needs to be covered to capture the event, I know can't zoom in a whole lot more than the test shot is. Unless I break the eclipse into two phases-before and after, with some sort of edited break in between.

Thanks for the help, though, hope to show off some cool stuff Monday!
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#18
Mesa, AZ
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Originally posted by Victress2007
I have a point and shoot camera with a 16x zoom. I won't be shooting through a telescope, just at intervals until sunset. Do I need some kind of a filter? I don't use one when shooting sunsets but this event starts well before sunset. If I do need a filter do you thing some kind of polarized sunglasses filter would work for this purpose?

I'll go out in 1/2 an hour or so and scout my location. I'm trying to figure out if it's worth the trouble to go up the hill a couple miles to catch more of the event. The sun goes down behind the mountains fairly early. (we have mountains both east and west of us).

Thanks,
Vic
I'm going to take some test shots tonight with a couple different p&s cameras to see how they look. In the past I hadn't used filters, but if I remember correctly the flares were pretty bad. With the coverage we should get at max eclipse, I'm hoping that won't be as much an issue. I'm amazed at how well digital sensors handle a shot with the sun in it!

JUST IN CASE IT ISN'T OBVIOUS!!! DO NOT LOOK THROUGH AN OPTICAL VIEWFINDER AT THE SUN! IF YOU'RE USING THE LCD SCREEN, YOUR OK, BUT DO NOT TRY TO USE ANY DIRECT OPTICAL PATH EQUIPMENT WITHOUT THE PROPER FILTER. AND FOR THE SUN THAT IS A DEDICATED SOLAR FILTER ONLY!!!

Another thought. If you have leafy trees around, be sure to observe the shadows on the ground that the leaves create at max eclipse. Might make for some cool shots too.
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#19
Happy Valley, Oregon
675 Posts
Joined Oct 2006
I don't think mesquite qualifies as leafy trees.

It is obvious to me not to use an optical viewfinder, but the lcd screen may provide a pretty good view. I'll have one camera on a tripod and one for other shots.

Vic
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#20
Happy Valley, Oregon
675 Posts
Joined Oct 2006
"In a wider zone that includes most western states, the sun becomes an eerie narrow crescent," Berman added. "At maximum eclipse, the lighting on the ground will grow strange. Shadows of trees and bushes will contain thousands of tiny crescents, as spaces between leaves become pinhole cameras."

So mesquite trees might actually work well for this purpose. No shortage of those around here, so I'll see what I can get.

Vic
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