How to enjoy the Great American (or any solar) ECLIPSE.

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Erik Ohlson
Erik Ohlson Forum Pro • Posts: 19,321
How to enjoy the Great American (or any solar) ECLIPSE.
1

There is a lot of at least SEMI - misinformation going around, let's try to cut through a bit of it.

You are NOT going to instantly trash your camera's sensor if you take a picture of the sun with your digital camera:

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The above was taken minutes after the sun jumped out from behind the mountain, purposely to highlight the harsh shadows on the famous Moving Rocks at The Racetrack, Death Valley, California, where skys are startlingly clear> I took my time composing the shot zooming a bit + & - until I got what I wanted - probably 10-30 seconds of composing time with the sun right in the lens, wide open [ƒ/3.3] and the sensor was not harmed.

View: original size

This one is a two-shot stitched panorama with the sun probably in both shots and, again, time taken to line up the two shots, level & all that so they would stitch OK. Again, the sensor wasn't hurt. Also wide open, ƒ/3.3 because that's how I shoot with small sensor camera due to diffraction wit smaller apertures.

Looking over the DP Forums you quite often see pictures with the sun in the frame, and the cameras were not ruined. (But that super-brilliant light sure can find every little speck of dirt on the lens - and give some drastic internal reflections in the lens, as in my picture #1) !!

Another thing people do not realize is that all the really cool Eclipse phenomena are actually only seen in the path of TOTALITY - anywhere else you have a fully bright sun with the moon "Taking a Bite" out of it. YOU NEED SPECIAL ECLIPSE GLASSES to look at that, OR you can turn away from it and get projected shadow images with a hole in a piece of cardboard, or even by just taking pictures of shadows of subjects like leaves or - say -making a little opening in the crook of your elbow like I did in Gilroy, California in the spring of 2012 [Note the crescent shadow 'inside' my left elbow]:

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If you ARE in the path of totality, you get to see a "REAL" eclipse - here's one we saw from a ship on the way to Easter Island in April, 2005:

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Taken from a moving ship, at sea, with a tiny 3MP Minolta Xi camera.

No matter what camera you have - that's basically what you will get: the solar corona - with more detail if you have a longer lens - & perhaps something unexpected, like the planet Venus below and to the right of the eclipse - at 1 in the afternoon of a clear day.

There will be LOTS of photos available taken by people with specialized equipment and who have probably practiced. By all means take pictures - and later compare those with the ones taken by experts on eclipse photography:

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A tiny sample of all the expensive "Gear" on our ship.

My advice is to just WATCH THE SHOW - wear the eclipse glasses until ALL the sun is gone - including the "Diamond Ring" effect and the ring of tiny "Bailey's Beads" which are pure, raw sunlight peeking between mountains on the moon - DON't look at them without the glasses. Take the glasses off when the sun is GONE and the sky is DARK and put 'em back on AS SOON as bright spots appear around the moon again.

Just enjoy the show, and don't look at the bright stuff without special glasses.

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