Partial Solar Eclipse

I have been taking a little time off from posting, but really did not expect a couple of weeks to pass so quickly.  Not only did I not post very much in this time period, I have not been shooting much either.  This tends to happen when the warm months approach and the harsh light permeates the landscape… at least when I am awake during the daylight houses.  Looking back on my photographs taken at this time last year, most were from Yosemite including a long but interesting night shooting moonbows.  But with gasoline prices consistently above $4 per gallon, and I know this is low compared to the European countries, I haven’t felt the need to take as many trips that cost me $60 in gas.  Couple that with lots of work (at work) and a need to get closer to completing the landscaping at the house, photography is taking a back burner.  I’m sure I’ll return with a vengeance once the summer fog starts rolling in again.

Anyhow, one of the times I decided to pull out the camera was a little over 2 weeks ago for the partial solar eclipse, also known as the “ring of fire” for those viewing the eclipse in Asia.  I only intended to use my 10-stop ND filter as a monocle (you know, like a single eye piece like Mr. Peanut) so I could take a quick glance at the eclipse.  Next thing you know, I have my camera and tripod setup in the backyard, result in this initial (not-so-great) photograph.

Did you know the 10-stop filter was initially used to photograph the inside hot furnaces (think steel mills)?

5:15pm – 62mm, ISO 100, 1/16 sec, f/11

I was not sure what speed, aperture, or ISO combination would be the best so as the eclipse progressed I used a variety of combinations with varying degrees of success.  But having taken this photograph with some olive tree branches in the foreground, I thought it might be interesting to have the nearby Preston Castle in the foreground.  (Hint: I tried, but failed to effectively achieve that.)

So after a few minutes of packing up my gear, I was at the recently closed youth correctional facility asking the security guard if it would be alright if I could walk around and shoot photographs of the sun.  He must have thought I was a little strange but allowed me to do so anyway.  The facility is next to Preston Castle, which was originally built in the late 1800’s as a reform school for youth before being closed in the 1960’s.

Anyhow, I couldn’t quite find an angle that would have placed the picturesque castle’s main tower into the foreground.  I settled for some rather interesting straight on photographs of the progressing eclipse using the ND-110 (10-stop) filter.

5:39pm – 175mm, ISO 100, 1/500, f/18
5:42pm – 200mm, ISO 100, 1/8 sec, f/9

I was having a tough time figuring out the exposure settings to capture any foreground.  It wasn’t as much of a problem metering the sun properly and preventing overexposure, especially since I bracketed exposures just in case, but it was a problem with the foreground.

This last photograph was the most interesting as I captured the sunspots during the eclipse.  I’m assuming the sunspots are not dust bunnies on my camera sensor!

5:56pm – 165mm, ISO 100, 1/8000 sec, f/9

EXIF data: Nikon D7000, spot metering mode, various mm, ISO 100, various sec, various f/ stops

Partial Solar Eclipse.  Ione, California. May 20, 2012. © Copyright Steven Tze – all rights reserved.


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