Monday, May 21, 2012

Annular Solar Eclipse of May 20th 2012

Annular not meaning annual as in each year, mind you. An annular eclipse is where the moon is at a point in its orbit where it is not "large" enough to cover the sun, thus you get an orange ring. Though in California we only got a 86% eclipse at its highest point.

It was certainly troublesome to photograph. No matter how dark the camera setting the sun would always come out as a bright light where you could not make out any of the sun itself. On the display screen (not the viewfinder, obviously) the sun appeared as a black disc, though this was not the eclipse itself, but the light tampering with the sensors. When I actually took the picture, it just came out as a white flash of light. I attach an image taken with my other camera of the view on the screen. The black crescent below is the sun; in a total eclipse it would be the moon that is black, but again this is what bright light does to a camera. I probably shouldn't have even been pointing it up there.

From the festival today at Paramount Ranch, we did get solar viewers, and I managed to take pictures through those:

This image was taken through a solar filter, a specially modified piece of dark translucent
paper. This eliminates all of the sun's glare. Note the sky was actually blue in life; in order to
single out the sun in the image above you have to remove pretty much all light.
There was a slight ashy tint of duskiness to the light, but as it was 6:30pm it would have gone pretty much unnoticed if you were not aware there was an eclipse. Though, the shadows were quite hard to miss. In dappled lighting you get all these neat mini crescents:

And trust me, I was looking hard to find a bird that would perch in the shadows but there was nothing around at all apart from a few Bushtits.

There were two other neat features about the eclipse. One is that it creates a perfect "starburst" lighting without the need of a specialized lens. The second is that the lens flare, those sometimes annoying orbs of light you see when angled to the sun, was made up of crescents too.

Starburst light.

Crescent lens flare as seen in the left side of the image.

In this one there is a complete reflection of the sun on the right.

At 4000/s shutter speed and f-42; the darkest I could make it, and even then you can't
 make out the sun. 
And actually, I did manage to get a shot of the sun that indicated something of the eclipse:

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