Solar Eclipse Photographs During Totality at 1800mm

Solar Eclipse Photographs

This is a post about my experiences photographing the solar eclipse and I really could not decide which one of my websites to publish it on…so it’s cross posted on all of them! 🙂

Several months ago I began to get a little bit interested in the possibility of trying my hand in creating some pretty basic solar eclipse photographs and the more research I did I became more and more interested. Once I realized I had pretty much the PERFECT spot to photograph from (my Dad’s old place in between Madisonville and Tellico Plains, TN) I really started trying to learn as much as I could about the whole process. Turns out there is a LOT to it!

The Canon Learning Center has an excellent guide to solar eclipse photography that I learned a lot from, and armed with just enough information to be dangerous I went ahead and ordered a 12″ by 12″ sheet of black polymer from Thousand Oaks Optical to make some filters out of.

About a month before “The Big Day” I decided it was time to get some long glass rented and discovered there was practically nothing available until the day after the eclipse. Woops! At that point I lost a little bit of interest but continued to search for some lenses, then one day I had the crazy thought of contacting Nikon Pro Services and seeing what they could do to help me, fully expecting to hear that nothing was available. Much to my surprise, I quickly had a 600mm f/4.0 with a 2.0 teleconverter heading my way. Things were really beginning to get serious!

My friend Wade Payne was photographing the eclipse for the Knoxville News Sentinel from Clingmans Dome in the Great Smoky Mountains so we decided to come up with a way to quickly remove the filters to ensure we could shoot as much as possible during totality. Turns out this was VERY important to the final outcome!

Solar Eclipse Photographs

Black polymer layout. From one 12″ by 12″ sheet ($50) we made filters for a 600mm, 400mm, 200-500mm, and a 70-200mm lens. Just barely!

 

Solar Eclipse Photographs

Wade building filters.

 

Once we had everything built and assembled it was time to start practicing. I was having a difficult time with my tripod selection until I remembered I had a massive Bogen tripod that my buddy Neil Copeland had loaned me a while back. Worked like a champ!

Solar Eclipse Photographs

Victoria with the 600mm f/4.0 with filter attached, 2.0 teleconverter, Nikon D500, and the Bogen tripod.

 

On Sunday I went ahead and traveled down to Dad’s to start setting up. Best part of this location is the fact that it is on a private road behind two locked gates 🙂 My wife Laura, grand daughter Victoria, and Izzy (little dog) came down Monday morning, my brother Mike and his friend Derrick drove up all the way from Miami, and my buddy Donald Page and Trooper (big dog) also came on Monday.

We wound up setting up/using several cameras and lens combinations, everything from a pinhole camera to the 1800mm setup. Lots of cool different looks but the “money” shots came from the long setup. Donald and I are sharing credit on those, it seriously took two people to track the sun, manually focus, edit the files, etc. I’m very happy that I had the video rolling, big shoutout to Brad Coulter for the super quick edits!

Here is the almost four minute long video through the totality sequence:

Solar Eclipse Through Totality from Randy Sartin on Vimeo.

And here it is in twenty one seconds:

Eclipse In 21 Seconds from Randy Sartin on Vimeo.

 

Here are the images shot with the D500 and 600mm setup:

 

Solar Eclipse Photographs

The Beginning!

 

Solar Eclipse Photographs

 

Solar Eclipse Photographs

 

Solar Eclipse Photographs

 

Solar Eclipse Photographs

 

Solar Eclipse Photographs

Getting close!

 

Solar Eclipse Photographs

BOOM! This is where we all started squealing like kids! 🙂

 

Solar Eclipse Photographs

 

Solar Eclipse Photographs

 

Solar Eclipse Photographs

 

Solar Eclipse Photographs

 

Solar Eclipse Photographs

And just like that it was over. 🙁

 

HUGE thanks to Donald for A) Coming to the shoot and B) Editing the images above. We shot 5 bracketed images (with Pocket Wizards) for each sequence and basically the ones shown above are the shortest exposures. Cropped as they are, each original image is at least 3973 pixels wide and some are over 5500 pixels wide.

Here are a few behind the scenes photographs:

Solar Eclipse Photographs

600mm lens and Bogen tripod.

 

Solar Eclipse Photographs

General location.

 

Solar Eclipse Photographs

Donald doing some serious preparation. 🙂

 

Solar Eclipse Photographs

Derrick and my brother Michael drove all the way up from Miami just for the eclipse.

 

And last but not least, the night before I just had to play with the 10.5mm lens 🙂

So it turns out there is A LOT to creating solar eclipse photographs! I had an absolute blast, learned a ton, came away with almost exactly what I wanted, etc. so I am as happy as can be with the results. I greatly appreciate everyone’s help, when it comes to solar eclipse photographs it definitely “Takes a Village” 🙂 The eclipse images are available to view and/or purchase here.

If I ever have the chance to do it all again I think I would want a tad bit shorter focal length, like 1500mm or so and I would definitely have a better departure plan, like wait until the next day!

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