The 2017 Total Solar Eclipse (over USA) on Aug 21 Resource Thread

David_S85David_S85 Spotter of Dgrin Spam and OdditiesChicagolandPosts: 11,571Administrators moderator
edited February 12, 2017 in Other Cool Shots

There is a wonderful opportunity coming up in August of this year. A total solar eclipse doesn't happen over populated areas very often. If you get the chance to make the journey to the narrow path of totality, I would urge you to take advantage of the situation and get out there - but be prepared. Of course, never look at the Sun directly, even during an eclipse (one exception, buried in the first link below). Special solar viewing are mandatory, as well as special filtering for cameras, telephoto lenses and telescopes.

I have assembled some resource links below, and will update and add to them as I find them. Feel free to place useful links in your posts below. If you have your own photos of solar eclipses from the past, please share them too (only your own photos please). If you embed or link your own photos, adding pertinent EXIF data and what type of filter you used would be most helpful.

I plan to road trip myself and camera gear to a western part of the US where the chance of cloud cover will be much less than Carbondale, IL. The Carbondale area has the distinction of the longest viewing time of totality (2 min 41sec). Oddly, the 2024 Solar eclipse path also comes through Carbondale. The party will be there, if you like big crowds and what will be sure to be a media frenzy. While that's the closest to me, I prefer less crowds and less chance of clouds.

Solar viewing Filters for photography? Have one? What type? (An ND10/400 won't do, BTW). If you'd like, give examples of your equipment and setup for solar eclipes. We'd all love to learn from your past experiences.

Do you plan to be in the path? If so, where? Maybe we can get some eclipse photo parties going.

Helpful Links:

Solar Eclipse 2017 resource page
http://www.eclipse2017.org/2017/path_through_the_US.htm

Xavier's Interactive Goodle Map
http://www.eclipse2017.org/xavier_redirect.htm
http://xjubier.free.fr/en/site_pages/solar_eclipses/TSE_2017_GoogleMapFull.html

Eclipse USA Aug 2017 Fractional Cloud Chances
https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/image/1701/EclipseClouds_MODISanderson_1415.jpg

Mr. Eclipse: How to Photograph a Solar Eclipse (not kept up to date but useful info)
http://www.mreclipse.com/SEphoto/SEphoto.html

Eclipses, Crash Courser on YouTube

Eclipse Glasses Links:
https://www.sciplus.com/s?sStr=eclipse&x=0&y=0
I looked through both the cardboard and higher quality plastic pair, and the Sun was orange with either.

My Smugmug
"You miss 100% of the shots you don't take" - Wayne Gretzky
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Comments

  • moose135moose135 Major grins Long Island, NY, Charlotte, NC and points between...Posts: 1,254Registered Users Major grins

    Thanks for posting this, David! I was out with some folks from my photo group Saturday, and we were talking about shooting the eclipse. I'll probably be somewhere in South Carolina or the mountains of western North Carolina. It will be interesting to see what everyone comes up with.

  • David_S85David_S85 Spotter of Dgrin Spam and Oddities ChicagolandPosts: 11,571Administrators moderator
    edited February 12, 2017

    I live very close to American Science and Surplus, so luckily I can see and touch their products in their Geneva store. They currently have a ton of stock of Solar Eclipse viewing glasses, both the cardboard type and the less-nerdy heavier duty black plastic "sunglass" style. The price of their cardboard model is less than $2. I don't think you can beat that. I looked through both of those at the sun directly overhead out their front door. The sun was orange tinted. There are some glasses out there that will make the Sun appear blue-grey, effective perhaps, but the color is weird.

    Discovery Number 1: I was prepared to pop for the more expensive ($15) pair, but the sun appeared blurry. Well, that was a moment, since I wear glasses. So I decided to buy a couple pairs of the cardboard type, cut the front elements out and tape them to spare pair of prescription glasses. That way, I can actually see the eclipse, if I am not already buried behind my camera changing the settings.

    My Smugmug
    "You miss 100% of the shots you don't take" - Wayne Gretzky
  • Cygnus StudiosCygnus Studios Commercial Photographer San Francisco's North BayPosts: 2,190Registered Users Major grins

    Thousand Oaks sells photography supplies dedicated to solar eclipses.

    There are several interesting locations that will be in the "zone" that might be worth considering:

    The Grand Tetons. You can bet this will be packed with people, but still.
    Just the edge of St. Louis (this might not work well, but imagine the eclipse with the Arch in the shot).
    Charleston, SC is on the very bottom edge but with so many cool sites this might be worth some consideration but do your homework to make sure that you'll get the eclipse.

    Once you know where you'll be (and the local time of the eclipse) you can you this site to match up the sun with any interesting buildings or mountain or whatever.

    Steve

    Website | Gear
  • David_S85David_S85 Spotter of Dgrin Spam and Oddities ChicagolandPosts: 11,571Administrators moderator

    Good links! Thanks. There's also the Photographer's Ephemeris, a free desktop app, and also a phone app. The Sun will be largely overhead this year during the event. Not much horizon/eclipse shooting this year. The Arch is a good idea -- but one potentially several thousand photographers and i-phoners will no doubt also come up with at the last minutes. Could be a zoo. I expect a general migration of masses of people towards the primary total line almost everywhere in the country. That's why I want to be in the middle of nowhere, but near something interesting nevertheless, just in case the eclipse is a bust. 800 miles of driving I should have a plan B.

    My Smugmug
    "You miss 100% of the shots you don't take" - Wayne Gretzky
  • StumblebumStumblebum I shoot, therefore I am Posts: 6,752Registered Users Major grins

    Thanks for dropping the knowledge David! Great learning opportunity for me!

  • ChrisJChrisJ Major grins Posts: 2,144Registered Users Major grins
    edited February 14, 2017

    I've only been to one previous total solar eclipse, Zambia 2001, and it was well worth it. Here are a few thoughts:

    1. Book a place to stay -- now! Thankfully, our country is really big with nice infrastructure, but many good spots have already filled up, I'm sure.
    2. Don't count on air travel -- get there early. Flights will be overbooked as normal, but no one will be willing to give up their seat, so there will be issues.
    3. Get your solar filters and lenses early. Shortages will happen! Though eclipse glasses tend to be available pretty late.
    4. Test your equipment before the event! Most folks here don't need this reminder, but snapping the sun is pretty easy to test.
    5. Have a backup plan. If it rains, can you drive somewhere? Will the roads accommodate all the traffic trying to divert?

    You can get welder's glass which is dark enough to safely view the eclipse. It's pretty cheap, BUT, it's not optically straight, so photographs will not look that good if you stick one in front of your camera.

    We have family coming internationally to view it, so we've booked our place to stay in Driggs, Idaho. It's just outside the Tetons, so even if nothing good happens with the weather, we can visit a nice national park (along with thousands of others, probably)!

    Chris
  • David_S85David_S85 Spotter of Dgrin Spam and Oddities ChicagolandPosts: 11,571Administrators moderator

    Just ordered a 77mm filter through Thousand Oaks. $59 plus the $10 shipping/handling chg.

    Has anyone here used a threaded solar filter on a lens before? My worry is that I won't be able to live view through such a dense filter. Looks like this is 1/100,000, or roughly 16 stops. Yeesh!

    Since this is a multi-hour event, I will need to (manually) point the rig towards the sun, and adjust it every few minutes, fully filtered. I don't have a telescope guider. Might this be a problem? Easy solutions for manual alignment?

    Yes, I am planning on testing the filter in the next few weeks after it arrives. I will report back with results good or bad. I'll be using my Canon 5D3 and a 400mm Canon L 5.6 lens on a firm tripod with a ball head.

    My Smugmug
    "You miss 100% of the shots you don't take" - Wayne Gretzky
  • ChrisJChrisJ Major grins Posts: 2,144Registered Users Major grins

    Live view works great with a threaded solar filter! It's almost mandatory to be able to get a sharp edge; magnify and focus. Though I haven't used it with my 7D2 yet, the 50D definitely struggled with autofocus. I'm not going to be using a guider either, as long as the Sun isn't taking up the whole sensor, it's easy enough to re-orient and shoot. Up until close to totality, it's fairly relaxed (then it can get crazy).

    You may want to think about a TC with that 400mm lens, especially since you're full frame. I don't have them yet, but I plan on having 1.4TC along with the 100-400 zoom. That gives me about 896mm of effective focal length, which is a little more than half the frame.

    FYI, I ordered my 77mm filter from Thousand Oaks back in January, and it still hasn't shipped... possibly because of high demand for the annular eclipse this past weekend? So expect a little bit of a wait! Oh, but it was the glass version.

    Chris
  • David_S85David_S85 Spotter of Dgrin Spam and Oddities ChicagolandPosts: 11,571Administrators moderator
    edited March 9, 2017

    I asked about glass filters as the first question, as I remember seeing them on their site a while back. They mentioned there is no glass 77 thread-on filter option anymore. The website also currently has no mention of glass, except for scopes. You might want to call and check on your order if you're waiting. They told me 10 days for the solarlite filter. I also asked what material the ring is made of and she didn't know that either. So it could be aluminum or brass, or ???. Hopefully not plastic! I was told I'd receive email when it ships and my card is charged.

    I do have a Canon 1.4x TC, but the 400 L 5.6 is slower to focus with it on. Heck, the almost 20-yr. old 400 5.6 is slow focus on it's own accord, even with the 5D3. I've never thought the files were any better with it on or off, when cropping, but during trials I'll be sorting it all out with, without, etc.

    Good to know you've been able to live view focus through a 16 stop filter. It's difficult enough with my ND400, which is 9 or so stops.

    My Smugmug
    "You miss 100% of the shots you don't take" - Wayne Gretzky
  • Cygnus StudiosCygnus Studios Commercial Photographer San Francisco's North BayPosts: 2,190Registered Users Major grins

    My older screw on filter was made of aluminum, but I bought it 8 or so years back.

    opticalinstruments has some 77mm screw on filters made by Thousand Oaks.

    For some odd reason, they make you use the search button to find this filter instead of listing it under filters.

    Steve

    Website | Gear
  • David_S85David_S85 Spotter of Dgrin Spam and Oddities ChicagolandPosts: 11,571Administrators moderator

    Two weeks, and no email confo from Thousand Oaks. @ChrisJ, have you had any luck with your 2 month old order?

    My Smugmug
    "You miss 100% of the shots you don't take" - Wayne Gretzky
  • ChrisJChrisJ Major grins Posts: 2,144Registered Users Major grins

    Hi @David_S85 , I got worried at your last message... but I received my order today with the 77-G and another filter for my small telescope. Whew! Maybe I got part of the last batch?

    I have a much older non-glass (black polymer?) filter from them, and it has a metal ring, aluminum I think. It's still in good shape and usable, but it's only 58mm. So now I don't have to play with step-down rings!

    Chris
  • David_S85David_S85 Spotter of Dgrin Spam and Oddities ChicagolandPosts: 11,571Administrators moderator

    Glad for you it finally arrived. Maybe they're just getting backed up again. If it goes another several days I'm going to call and check in with them. I really want to experiment and test the system together.

    My Smugmug
    "You miss 100% of the shots you don't take" - Wayne Gretzky
  • David_S85David_S85 Spotter of Dgrin Spam and Oddities ChicagolandPosts: 11,571Administrators moderator
    edited March 23, 2017

    My filter arrived today, though I never got an email about it being shipped or charged. The ring is aluminum and screws on very easily onto my 400. One side of the filter is black and the other side looks to be some dull reflective material. Now I need to wait for a sunny day and test it with the 5D3. It weighs almost nothing.

    My Smugmug
    "You miss 100% of the shots you don't take" - Wayne Gretzky
  • ChrisJChrisJ Major grins Posts: 2,144Registered Users Major grins

    Woo hoo! I still haven't had time to test mine yet, either. Hopefully this weekend! The rain is supposed to clear out after Saturday...

    Chris
  • David_S85David_S85 Spotter of Dgrin Spam and Oddities ChicagolandPosts: 11,571Administrators moderator
    edited March 26, 2017

    Testing, testing.

    It was warm and sunny this morning, so I did a quick handheld test with the Thousand Oaks Solar filter. 5D3, 400mm f/5.6, ISO 400, 1/1600. Full manual except for focusing. I used live view. Pointing was relatively easy and autofocus worked at 16 stops below daylight! I was hoping to see a sunspot, but none were present today.

    CORRECTION: There is a sunspot, though small, at the 0 o'clock position and 30% in from the edge. I confirmed this with spaceweather dot com.

    Next test will be with tripod (heavy weight below center column), manual focus at ISO 100 and with 5 or 7 shot bracketing to simulate what I might do at the actual eclipse. Target exposure will be ISO 100, f5.6, 1/400th.

    My Smugmug
    "You miss 100% of the shots you don't take" - Wayne Gretzky
  • David_S85David_S85 Spotter of Dgrin Spam and Oddities ChicagolandPosts: 11,571Administrators moderator

    Not one hotel available within 125 miles of the centerline now. Sleep in my car?

    My Smugmug
    "You miss 100% of the shots you don't take" - Wayne Gretzky
  • moose135moose135 Major grins Long Island, NY, Charlotte, NC and points between...Posts: 1,254Registered Users Major grins

    I was out testing a little last weekend. All shot with a Canon 5D3, 100-400mm, and 1.4x teleconverter on a tripod. I used a Marumi 16.6 stop filter. I was at ISO 100, f/8.0 (because of the TC) and worked with shutter speeds between 1/800 and 1/8000. I did get a few sunspots, and the last two shots had some clouds passing in front of the sun. I used Live View to set up the shots, and autofocus as well.

  • David_S85David_S85 Spotter of Dgrin Spam and Oddities ChicagolandPosts: 11,571Administrators moderator

    Good job on the spots, Moose. Handheld? I was tempted to get out and do some sunspot shooting, but the only days there has been sunshine is on my work days.

    My Smugmug
    "You miss 100% of the shots you don't take" - Wayne Gretzky
  • ChrisJChrisJ Major grins Posts: 2,144Registered Users Major grins

    Very nice test shots David and Moose. Mine pales by comparison. 7D2 with a 70-200 f/4L, handheld through windy LA skies (even worse than normal). This was a few weeks ago. I was mainly checking out the color of the glass filter, which I really like! If I combine that with a 100-400 and 1.4TC, I think I'll be happy.

    A few sunspots, but pretty blurry through the bad seeing.

    Chris
  • David_S85David_S85 Spotter of Dgrin Spam and Oddities ChicagolandPosts: 11,571Administrators moderator
    edited April 28, 2017

    I haven't tried my old ver.2 TC on my 400 yet for this. One of these days. That, and make a couple more hotel reservations. The closest I could find to Alliance, NB was Sterling, Co. Nothing like getting up at 2:45am and driving north 125 miles to get a spot in line to park at the Rodeo grounds, along with 50,000 other folks! Yikes. Sometimes Often I wonder why I am doing this.

    My Smugmug
    "You miss 100% of the shots you don't take" - Wayne Gretzky
  • moose135moose135 Major grins Long Island, NY, Charlotte, NC and points between...Posts: 1,254Registered Users Major grins

    Those were on a tripod, David. I'm still trying to decide on a place to go, but being in Charlotte, we're not that far from the path of totality. I'm looking at someplace in the mountains of western NC or into SC. Columbia, SC is also about a hour and a half away, and directly in the path, so I may just find someplace down there to shoot from.

  • Cygnus StudiosCygnus Studios Commercial Photographer San Francisco's North BayPosts: 2,190Registered Users Major grins

    For anyone still hunting for threaded filters, Agenasstro has the "Thousand Oaks" filters in stock with a quick shipping policy.

    One of our photographers ordered one on Monday and it just arrived today.

    Steve

    Website | Gear
  • ChrisJChrisJ Major grins Posts: 2,144Registered Users Major grins

    The great conjunction comes!! Only a month and a half away... I just got my TC today, so I took a test shot of the moon tonight.

    This was using my 70-200 f/4L at 200mm, ISO3200 (because I forgot to lower it). I'm getting excited!

    Chris
  • David_S85David_S85 Spotter of Dgrin Spam and Oddities ChicagolandPosts: 11,571Administrators moderator

    I might be not attending the big party. I might also begin planning for 2024 several years early, since I didn't plan early enough for this one.

    2024 Plan:
    1 Study path
    2 Rent cabin(s) with land around it in a semi private area
    3 Invite 4-20 photographer and astronomy friends to share expenses
    4 Do the eclipse with minimal interference

    Bonus: Bathrooms without long lines, getting there early enough (days) to not get caught in traffic jams that make the last scene in Field of Dreams look like child's play, bathrooms, enough food that you don't need to worry about where the porta-potty bathrooms are, no screaming running kids that don't care about bumping your equipment.

    Everything I am now reading about how every town will "Whoop it up big" along the line scares the crap out of me. The estimates are now up to 50 million attending that little line. OMG.

    My Smugmug
    "You miss 100% of the shots you don't take" - Wayne Gretzky
  • ChrisJChrisJ Major grins Posts: 2,144Registered Users Major grins

    @David_S85 said:
    I might be not attending the big party.

    Everything I am now reading about how every town will "Whoop it up big" along the line scares the crap out of me. The estimates are now up to 50 million attending that little line. OMG.

    No!!! As someone who has seen one eclipse already, you do not want to miss this one! When you see it 2024, you'll just kick yourself for not making it out this year. Even if you're only near the edge (say, the 30-second zone), you won't regret it.

    Here's some estimates with at least a little bit of thought: https://www.greatamericaneclipse.com/statistics/. The article in Time said that 47 million people live within 2 hours of the eclipse, but I really don't think all of those people are going to care... I have a lot of sciencey friends who aren't even going.

    Chris
  • ChrisJChrisJ Major grins Posts: 2,144Registered Users Major grins

    OK, last moon shot here before it's in front of the sun... 100-400 Mk. II with 1.4 TC on a 7D Mk. II. The focal length makes everything really shakey even on my tripod. I put some weight hanging in the middle, which seemed to help (anyone know a guideline for this? I haven't Googled it yet). Here's link to the original. I'm pretty happy all things considered.

    And just for fun... Saturn

    (That one is a 100% crop :wink: )

    Chris
  • David_S85David_S85 Spotter of Dgrin Spam and Oddities ChicagolandPosts: 11,571Administrators moderator
    edited July 6, 2017

    I have found that shooting the Moon handheld beats tripod shots for clarity, except in extreme cases such as total eclipse blood moon shooting. The Moon moves fast at about it's width every 2.5 minutes.

    Start with autofocus with the center 9 crosspoints active to get the most accuracy out of the focusing system hitting the Moon's rim, acquire focus, and switch the lens immediately to manual focus. This will allow the camera to not need to gain focus on it's own every shot and speed things up and help to get keepers. Go into continuous shooting mode with silent shutter active (if your camera has that) to minimize shutter body shake. Daylight WB. Shutter about 1/800 if using a 400mm lens, again to minimize shake, and whatever ISO that makes that work. Test shoot to get proper exposure. Switch to full manual mode with same exposure, again to minimize allowing the camera to make decisions - and to keep all exposures the same. Fire away. The 2nd or 3rd shot in a sequence should be the clearest. Full moons are harder to shoot due to the brightness muddling out the features. 1/2 to 3/4 full seem to work better and gives the Moon some artistic depth as a bonus and can make some deep craters and shadows visible that full moon shots cannot.

    My Smugmug
    "You miss 100% of the shots you don't take" - Wayne Gretzky
  • Cygnus StudiosCygnus Studios Commercial Photographer San Francisco's North BayPosts: 2,190Registered Users Major grins

    @David_S85 said:
    I might be not attending the big party. I might also begin planning for 2024 several years early, since I didn't plan early enough for this one.

    Have you considered finding a spot between towns/cities? Granted this is easier in the western states, but shouldn't be that hard to find a spot in the middle of nowhere.

    I do like your 2024 plan. Our client for this year rented a farm and is already building out the set. I should be able to take a few minutes to grab some stand alone shots of the sun while there (hopefully).

    Steve

    Website | Gear
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