Capturing the Solar Eclipse 2017

Tips and tricks on  photographing the Solar Eclipse 2017

 

SolarEclipse2017_LizNieves

WARNING:

Never look directly at the sun without eye protection, or for your camera, binoculars or telescope. Failure to do so can result in serious eye injury or permanent blindness.Ordinary sunglasses and polarizing or neutral-density filters used in regular photography are not safe and should not be used.

Screen Shot 2017-08-09 at 11.23.10 PM

Eclipse_02

image credit : Space.com

If you are one of the lucky ones who will get to experience the Solar Eclipse in person this coming week (Monday -August 21, 2017),congrats! This event is once in a life time, happening across the United States in very specific areas of the country.This event is a must capture moment!

Here are a few tips and tricks on how to capture the best images possible :

 

USING THE RIGHT OPTICS IS KEY

If you are planning to use a digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) camera to capture detailed, close-up shots of the eclipse, you will need to shoot through a telephoto lens or telescope of sufficient focal length,500 millimeters or more.This will give you a reasonably large image of the sun’s disk in the camera frame.

KEEP IT STEADY

To get jitter-free shots, use a sturdy tripod or mount to support your camera setup. Don’t try to hold it by hand. Make sure your tripod and head are beefy enough to carry the full load of your imaging gear. Carbon-fiber tripods are stronger and lighter than regular aluminum tripods, but they cost a bit more.

Keep the tripod low to the ground to minimize vibrations. If you need to raise the tripod’s height, extend the legs, not its center column. If possible, place a vibration-suppression pad under each leg. You can also hang a heavy object, such as a backpack or a jug of water, under the tripod’s center post to improve its stability.

Try to keep your setup as portable and easy to assemble and operate as possible. Portability is the key if you need to relocate in a hurry to a different site to escape clouds.

TRACK THE SUN

If your camera setup has a relatively short focal length, then a fluid pan head offers smooth guiding when you’re manually tracking the sun, which moves 0.25 degrees per minute across the sky. Keep your exposures short (no more than a second or so) to prevent the image from smearing due to Earth’s rotation.

USE A SAFE & PROPER SOLAR FILTER

When shooting the eclipse’s partial phases, be sure to use a solar filter mounted securely in front of your telephoto lens or telescope objective. Don’t forget to place a filter over the telescope’s finder scope as well.

SET THE CAMERA TO ITS HIGHEST RESOLUTION

To record as much detail and color information as possible, use your camera’s highest-quality (least-compressed) JPEG setting, or RAW file format to capture the images. Consult your camera manual on how to change the image-quality setting.

USE A HIGH ISO SETTING

Set your camera’s sensitivity to ISO 400 (or higher) to keep exposures very short, thereby minimizing blurring due to vibrations or tracking errors.

SWITCH TO MANUAL

Switch your camera shooting mode from Auto (A) to Manual (M) so you’ll be able to control its focus and exposure settings. YourDSLR camera’s autofocus and auto-exposure functions will not work on the eclipse. The same goes for the camera’s pop-up flash; just turn it off completely.

FOCUS CAREFULLY

Don’t let poor focus ruin your images. Allow yourself enough time to focus carefully to get sharp images. If possible, prefocus your camera (without the solar filter) the night before the eclipse using a bright star. Otherwise, focus carefully (through the solar filter) on the sun’s limb (the edge of the disk) or on sunspots, if there are some visible, on the morning of the eclipse. Place a piece of adhesive tape on your telephoto’s focus ring (or lock the telescope focuser) to keep it from being moved accidentally during the eclipse.

MINIMIZE VIBRATIONS

An effect called mirror slap that occurs in DSLRs creating a very small vibration in the camera that can cause blurred images. If possible, use the camera’s mirror lock-up feature before each shot to keep vibrations to a minimum. Keep your exposures very short by using a high ISO setting (400 or higher). You should also operate the shutter with an electronic cable release to eliminate camera shake created by your finger pressing on the shutter button. Finally, choose your site so it’s shielded from the wind. Erect a windbreak, if needed.

BRACKET YOUR EXPOSURES

Digital cameras have very limited dynamic range,they can’t capture the full range of brightness levels of the sun’s corona during totality in a single exposure. For best results, use the “bracketing” technique —taking a series of shots at various shutter speeds. This will increase your chances of getting the appropriate exposure for the scene you’re interested in.

Try short exposures to record fine details in the inner corona and long exposures to capture faint streamers of the outer corona. Prominences are deceivingly bright, so you’ll need to use fast shutter speeds, say, 1/500 seconds to 1/1,000 seconds, depending on your effective focal ratio and ISO setting.

EXTRA MEMORY CARDS

Be sure to use a reliable, high-speed, large-capacity (16 gigabytes or more) memory card when shooting the eclipse. Get one with the fastest write-read speed you can afford, and keep a backup card in case of any last-minute issues.

USE A FRESH BATTERY

DSLRs can easily drain the batteries, especially if you use the LCD screen continuously. Make sure you use a fully charged battery right before first contact, and have a spare one handy, just in case. You don’t want to get that flashing low-battery icon at the most critical time.

TEST YOUR IMAGING SETUP

Be sure to try out your setup before the eclipse. If possible, take trial shots of the sun to give yourself an idea of what exposure settings to use with your particular telescope and filter combination. These will also reveal any potential problems with focusing and vibrations, as well as internal reflections or vignetting (dimming around the edges of the image). Practice your imaging sequence over and over so you can time your pace and refine it as needed. Remember: Things will unfold very quickly right before and during totality, and you have only one chance to get it right!

CATCH THE ACTION

Consider bringing a video camcorder or GoPro action camera.If you mount the camcorder on a fixed tripod and set its lens to wide angle, it can record not only the approach and retreat of the moon’s shadow and totality itself, but also the excitement of the people observing in the foreground.

Enjoy everyone!

If you cannot witness the eclipse in person, no worries……. watch a live stream HERE !

May the Solar Eclipse shower you with its positive and creative vibrations.

x.o. Liz

 

 

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