the 2017 Solar Eclipse on Vashon Island - John Sage :: FinchHaven Digital Photography

OK. So clearly some explanation is necessary.

I figured I wasn't going to try and chase the typical Moon-Takes-A-Bite-Out-Of-The-Sun total eclipse photo: there were going to be eleventy-billion of them, all looking pretty much exactly the same.


What to do?

What I *wanted* to do is to capture how much darker it got at totality (93% totality on Vashon Island) because I figured that's what most people in most places would remember.

And shoot a time lapse of the eclipse from some well-known, recognizable location.

So, without any detailed research as to just how dark that was going to be, I set out to shoot one frame every 30 seconds from the time the moon's shadow first entered the sun's disk (first shot: 9:09:36 am PDT) through totality at +- 10:20 am PDT to the time the moon's shadow left the sun's disk (last shot: 11:41:09 am PDT).

Set up my Canon EOS 5D Mark II on a tripod, full manual exposure (so the camera wouldn't try to "fix" anything as the lighting changed) of 1/1000 second at f5.6, ISO 640, automatic white balance.

30 second exposure timing was done auto-magically by a brand new Vello Wireless ShutterBoss II. Set it up, set up the camera, press "go" and stand around and wait and talk to people...

Problem was, it didn't actually get anywhere *near* as dark as I thought.

Turned out that even 7% of the sun's disk is pretty darn bright. Add in the corona, which we never think about because we can never see, but which is a very brightly glowing mass of gasses around the sun's disk. (The coolest thing (pun) was how much cooler it got: may four-five degrees at least. I hadn't read much about that beforehand, but at the moment it all happened I remembered that's another universal eclipse effect...)

So it really didn't get dark enough (although I did notice one of two street lights came on, which is cool, and which I didn't notice at the moment) for the effect I'd hoped to capture.

(That, and the dynamic range of a camera is way, way narrower | less | poorer | different than the dynamic range of the human eye / human optical system).

So although the exposure was fine for the start and the end, during totality the camera's exposure was way, way darker than what was happening in real life.

So to get anything at all I was reduced to doing extensive post-processing in Adobe Lightroom 2015 CC, which is exactly what I didn't want to do.

I mean, if I had to do extensive post-processing to get the photos to look all "eclipse-y" I might as well have shot just one pic, copied it hundreds of times, and post-processed all of the copies to fake the look I wanted.


So instead I took the first photo, the last photo, and one right at totality and did only a minimal post-processing to get it all to look something like I remember it.

Oh well. Next time...

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