How I shot the solar eclipse today

As always, I will try to avoid tech and math as all that can be found on the net already.

First, a look at the logic behind using ND or solar filters and glasses.

Looking directly into the sun is not recommended in general for a variety of reasons and I would strongly suggest that you avoid doing that. There are times when we move out of our homes and look up to the sky to adjust our eyes to the light around us a bit faster. A passing glance at the sun is okay, not looking at it.

This is where solar glasses come in. These are available online from a variety of online stores and should be used if you want to look at the eclipse.

ND or Neutral Density and Solar filters can be used on cameras and telescopes for the same purpose. In general, Solar filters are recommended over ND filters.

I had neither the glasses nor the filters. I did not quite imagine myself waking up in time for the eclipse anyway, so, did not bother with those.

For some reason, I woke up and took it easy since I had no intension of going to my rooftop till I started looking at some shots people had already started to share on social media.

Okay, so, I was not too concerned with the fact that I had no filters for the camera, but, I was concerned about my eyes. I thought over that part for a while and went to the roof to take some shots of the little of the eclipse that was still around on a cloudy day.

I had to wait a while for the clouds to clear a bit and meantime I set my camera for the exposure that I thought would be correct.

I set the shutter speed to the maximum I have on the D850, i.e., 1/8000, Aperture wide open at f/5.6 and the ISO to the base native of 64. Then I set up the bracketing for a 1 EV change for 7 and later 9 shots.

Generally, I use AF-C priority as Focus (as discussed in an earlier video), so, I changed that to Release for these shots since I already know from experience when I shoot skies for backgrounds, the autofocus generally does not lock. The lens I used was my normal Nikkor 200-500mm.

Since it was still cloudy and the sun not visible, I focussed onto the clouds where I had a good enough focus lock using the AF of the camera instead of manually trying to set it to infinity.

Once the clouds cleared a bit from the sun, I looked through the viewfinder to the area next to the sun, which is like shooting any normal sky. Then, I started moving the camera towards the sun and the moment the light got brighter, I half shut my eye and looked down instead of through the viewfinder since I could “sense” the light through my half-shut eye. The moment it was bright enough to “feel”, I released the shutter for bracketing the first lot.

As we can see, it was over-exposed and I stopped down to f/16, f/18 and finally landed up at f/32. Of course, I was bracketing 9 shots for all of these apertures since the clouds were coming and going it was always safer to bracket.

After I got a bite of the sun, I waited for a while and thought I would get a different image in a while. Not really, the eclipse was over when I tried after about 30-40 minutes and I got only the sun instead.

As we can see from some of these, I probably touched the AF at some point while trying to keep my eyes from looking directly at the sun and the focus shifted completely.

So, I fixed the focus at a patch of clouds and took another 9 shots only to find that the eclipse was over. Oh well…At least I got one piece of the pie šŸ™‚

After this, I went to the rooftop later as I have been since the lockdown and took my daily shots as well. Same gear.

A warning for your gear! Do not use the live view or long exposures. That can totally damage your gear most of the time. Do not try and focus on the sun directly. That will not work. Just try to focus on a patch of clouds and then take a shot as I have described above. My gear was exposed to the eclipse for only about 1 second for the bracketed shots at 1/8000th of a second.

For you as well…Get solar glasses for the next time. I already did šŸ™‚

#photography #nikon #nikkor #eclipse

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