Solar Eclipse Photography

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by coreno, Jun 5, 2017.

  1. coreno

    coreno TPF Noob!

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    I want to get pictures of the total solar eclipse in the US on Aug 21, and what I'm struggling the most with is finding solid information on what to use on the front of my lens.

    Obviously I need to filter the light, but I've seen references to a "solar filter", which presumably is specifically for viewing the sun; but I'm having a hard time finding "solar filters" for a camera lens (specifically 95mm diameter). There seems to be some accessories and whole sheets of solar film intended for a telescope, but I'm not sure how I'd mount it on my lens.

    The other option seems to be ND filters, but it's unclear the number of stops in reduction of light I would need, and some seemed to suggest that a ND filter wouldn't filter out harmful non-visible light (IR and UV). How important is that for the camera internals vs my own eyes (if I were to use the viewfinder).

    Finally, if I'm looking and photographing the sun using Live View on the camera, I presume that could be stressful for the sensor; if nothing else make it very warm and introduce a lot of noise even at ISO100. Is this a valid concern?


     
  2. Designer

    Designer Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Yes, Live View does tend to make everything, particularly the battery, warmer. If you have the correct filter on the front, I don't know why you would get more noise.
     
  3. 480sparky

    480sparky Chief Free Electron Relocator Supporting Member

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    Three simple steps:

    1. Put lens cap on
    2. Turn camera off
    3. Put camera down.

    At least that's what I'm gonna do. There's people who have spent their entire lives chasing eclipses all over the world, and have yet to take a 'decent' photo of one. What chance do I have?..... Slim and none, and Slim's left town.
     
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  4. KmH

    KmH In memoriam Supporting Member

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    There is a immense difference between photographing the partial eclipse phase and photographing during totality.

    Without a solar filter on the lens during the partial portion of the eclipse Do Not Look In The Vewfinder if you are not using live view.
    However, a solar safety filter will like require you make fairly long exposures in the early p[art of the partial phase.

    During totality you do not need any kind of filter and will only have to deal with light from the Sun's corona.
    The path of totality is only some 70 miles wide and it's at the center of that path that the total phase will be the longest about 2 minutes and 40 seconds average across the US.
    I am only planning on making 1 or 2 photos of the corona during the 2 minutes and 40 seconds that the Sun will be totally eclipsed where I will be viewing it.
    For the partial phase I'll have my solar filter on my 3" telescope.
    I'll take the solar filter off the telescope when I mount my DSLR to the telescope's focuser to get a couple shots of the corona.

    The next chance in the US to see a total solar eclipse is in 2024. After that - 2045.
     
  5. Peeb

    Peeb Semi-automatic Mediocrity Generator Supporting Member

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  6. table1349

    table1349 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    I always found this and a good rubber band to work just fine. Just make sure to take the lens cap off first and stretch the filter smoothly over the lens.
     
  7. TCampbell

    TCampbell Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    My "other" passion is astronomy... I've been planning this event for the last four years.

    If you are in the path of "totality" then an eclipse has four "contacts".

    C1: The first contact occurs when the moon first touches the edge of the sun and begins to block it. You must have a solar filter on the camera to shoot these partial eclipse phases (as the moon continues to move in front of the sun). You'll need an "ND 5.0" solar filter. I use Thousand Oaks brand solar filters. I'll put a link below.

    About 10 seconds before C2 is when things start to get very interesting... you may remove your solar filter NO SOONER than 50 seconds prior to C2, but you definitely want that filter off by 20 seconds prior to C2.

    BEFORE you remove that solar filter (prior to C2) you can do a final frame & focus on the Sun. The solar filter MUST be on your lens when you look through the camera to do this. If you do not own a "tracking" mount (Sky Watcher "Star Adventurer" or iOptron "SkyTracker Pro" or similar products) then the sun is going to move during totality and you need to frame in anticipation of this... so here's some math.

    The Earth spins at a rate of 15 arc-seconds per second of real time. The longest duration of the Ecipse is roughly 2 minutes 40 seconds if you're lucky enough to be in that spot. That means that the Sun will move 2400 arc-seconds (40 arc-minutes or about 2/3rds of a degree) during totality. The Sun and moon are only 30 arc-minutes wide (from edge to edge). That means it will move about 1.3x it's entire width.

    But this assumes you framed it at the moment that totality beings... and really you need this thing framed in about 1 minute before then. In that 1 minute the Sun will move about 1/2 of it's width. This means REALLY you want to compose the frame so the Sun starts on the left side of the frame... maybe in the left third (but that depends on your focal length) and it will migrate to the right as totality is happening.

    At about 9 seconds or so prior to C2 you'll see the "Diamond Ring" effect ... and that will give way to the "Bailey's Beads" effect. Also, you may notice the shadows on white surface will have a strange rippling pattern called "shadow bands".

    C2: The second contact occurs when the moon has finally completely covered the Sun and "totality" begins. You will see the solar corona and the brighter stars in the daytime sky (such as Regulus which will be 1º left of the Sun).

    At this point the solar filter is off and you can visually see the corona (and so can your camera) but getting the entire corona takes a HUGE bracketing sequence... about 10-12 stops worth of dynamic range. The exposure that can capture the outer region will over-expose the corona near the edge of the sun. The exposure that doesn't blow out the corona near the sun wont capture the outer areas.

    See: How to Photograph a Solar Eclipse

    "Mr. Ecipse" is Fred Espenak. He's the retired NASA physicist who came up with the eclipse prediction that all of us are using AND he's also probably the foremost expert in photography of the solar corona.

    During this period you REALLY want the camera on auto-pilot so YOU enjoy the eclipse instead of having your head in the camera.

    If you're lucky enough to own an Apple laptop, you want a program called "Solar Eclipse Maestro" which will automate everything with staggering precision. (Free for non-commercial use but the author appreciates donations. Commercial use requires a proper license and since we photographers are pissed when people steal our work... software developers are likewise pissed when people violate the license terms. So if your work is to be enjoyed by you and your friends.... it's free. If you think you would like to sell your work, you'll need to get a paid license.)

    If you have Windows, the program to have used to be "Eclipse Orchestrator" but from what I can tell, it's not being maintained anymore. So whether or not it will be able to support your camera is in question (depending on the age of your gear). I've used Eclipse Orchestrator (on the day of the Eclipse I'll be using Solar Eclipse Maestro on the Mac) and it worked well enough for my gear. I'm told the other program that people are using on Windows is called SETnC. But the caveat is that I think SETnC might only be able to control Canon EOS cameras (I'm not certain, I haven't evaluated that particular program.)

    C3: The third contact occurs when the Sun starts to peek out on the opposite side of the Moon. Totality is over... but not the fun.

    At this point you get (a) another set of "Baily's Beads", another "Diamond Ring" effect, and may see more shadow bands.

    BTW, prior to C2 and after C3 you may see the shadow of the moon approaching / receding ... especially if you have a higher vantage point and can see off into the distance (above the crowds).

    Within 50 seconds of the end of "totality" (after C3) you MUST get that solar filter back on your camaera ... and you can continue to photograph the partial phases until...

    C4: The fourth contact occurs when the moon moves completely off the Sun and the Sun is completely revealed... the eclipse is over.



    I use Thousand Oaks solar filters and I own a lot of them... for different telescopes and camera lenses. Thousand Oaks solar filters render the sun in an "orange" color. Baader solar film (a different filter) tends to render the sun in a "white" color with a bit of a blue cast.

    Here's the link to Thousand Oaks: Solar Filters (“White Light”) – Thousand Oaks Optical

    They do make filters that "thread" onto the filter threads of your lens, but eclipse photographers tend to prefer the "cap" type filters (they don't have threads... they're like a cap that fits over the front of your lens. If you get the "cap" type then they are sold based on the inner diameter... measure the outer diameter of your lens body and buy whatever diameter is just barely bigger (they come with a felt tape that you put on the inside to give the filter a snug fit.)

    You NEED to buy this soon for two reasons: (a) as the eclipse draws near the price tag goes up and (b) they do actually run out of these things. Prior to the 2012 Transit of Venus (and that's "just" a Transit of Venus ... most of the non-astronomy public doesn't know about it) the manufacturer ran out of filters about a month before and they were so backlogged with orders that those who didn't yet have filters were waiting to see if they'd even have a filter in time.


    YOU should have solar eclipse viewers for your own eyes (to avoid having to buy the white cane with the red tip a day or two later when your retinas stop working ... retinas do not have nerves that can feel "pain" so you wont know your damaging them and it takes between 24-48 hours for the damaged retinas to stop working. So you can think you're ok... and a day or maybe two days later you wake up and suddenly realize you don't see so well.


    In addition... you MIGHT want to pick up an eyepatch for one eye. Principally this is so you can look like a pirate. But one side effect is that it takes a human eye about 40 minutes to become completely dark-adapted, but you'll be mostly dark-adapted after about 20 minutes. Totality only lasts a couple of minutes so your eye would never get dark-adapted in that amount of time. So the idea is that if you put a patch on just ONE eye about 30 minutes prior to totality, then that eye will be mostly dark-adapted (you must NOT cheat and take that eyepatch off for any reason... not even for a second... until totality occurs). You can now remove the eyepatch at totality and THAT eye will be dark adapted and see (a) a much larger solar corona and (b) loads of stars. (All those people not wearing an eyepatch 30 minutes prior wont see that... and also wont look as cool.)
     
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  8. nerwin

    nerwin Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    I'm going to experience this once in a lifetime opportunity and not try to think about photography.

    There will be many, many people photographing it and recording it in 16k resolution (okay maybe just 4k) in which we can all watch years from now on our crazy high resolution TV/Monitors just like if we were there in person.

    So why not enjoy life a little bit?
     
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  9. Bob Peters 61

    Bob Peters 61 TPF Noob!

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    I'm getting a $26 kit from B&H that has filter glasses, a hand-held filter you hold in front of your camera and a guide book. Probably be easier to use a hand-held filter since I plan on using a mirrorless digital, a couple of vintage toy cameras and a 35mm SLR to later compare images. I hope the guide book will have exposure setting suggestions for shooting the Sun through the filter it came with.
     
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2017
  10. 480sparky

    480sparky Chief Free Electron Relocator Supporting Member

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    Fred Espanek's book Totality has an entire chapter dedicated to shooting an eclipse.
     
  11. KmH

    KmH In memoriam Supporting Member

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    There are total eclipses somewhere on Earth roughly every 18 to 24 months.
    The last one was on March 9, 2016. It could be seen in Indonesia, Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, and the Pacific Ocean.
    After ours here in the US in August, the next total solar eclipse - on July 2, 2019 - can be seen in Argentina and Chile, unless you can afford to see it from a ship out in the Pacific Ocean.

    After the August total eclipse, the next total eclipse in the US will be just 7 years later - April 8, 2024.
    The one after April '24 can be seen in the US on August 12, 2045.

    So they are not once in a lifetime events, if you can afford the time and expense to travel to where one can be seen, or just happen to live close to one.
    There are people that do just that, and travel to wherever each one is.
     
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2017
  12. TCampbell

    TCampbell Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Many people are unable to travel... making a local eclipse effectively quite the opportunity.

    The downside of the 2024 eclipse is that April tends to be a cloudier month.
     

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