Photographing Today's Solar Eclipse
October 23, 2014 7:17 AM   Subscribe

This afternoon/evening, North Americans will be treated to a partial solar eclipse, making for some great photography opportunities from Chicago to LA and points northward (coverages as high as ~60% in the Northwestern US and Canada) -- even if there are some clouds! Not sure how to photograph an eclipse safely? Here are some detailed guides.

Along with the two guides mentioned above (one of which even has a handy table of exposure times!), there's an even more detailed guide in two parts [1,2] from the wonderful Mr.Eclipse.com.

But remember, safety first! Even during a partial eclipse, focusing on the sun can rapidly damage your delicate optics (and possibly your camera's). Not sure what filters are good enough to protect you? Here is a detailed comparison of various filter materials (including both ones designed for solar observation and makeshift ones like exposed film, magnetic media, & pop-tart wrappers) which includes measurements of their UV, visible light, and IR transmittance properties.
posted by Westringia F. (19 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
Actually, I partially lied about the even more detailed guide. It's FIVE parts long in totality! [1,2,3,4,5]
posted by Westringia F. at 7:24 AM on October 23, 2014


Geoff Sims did a great visualization of eclipse visibility across North America.
posted by zamboni at 7:25 AM on October 23, 2014 [1 favorite]


in totality

I see what you did there.
posted by zamboni at 7:27 AM on October 23, 2014


Lazy-man's way to enjoy an eclipse; look at the dappled light shining through trees.
posted by Nelson at 7:39 AM on October 23, 2014


There's also a huge sunspot cluster right now.
posted by dirigibleman at 7:39 AM on October 23, 2014


Drat, it's supposed to get cloudy here in Chicago right before the eclipse is supposed to start. And it looks like the mid-eclipse would just about coincide with sunset, which would be an amazing sight if we could see it.
posted by dnash at 7:41 AM on October 23, 2014


I'm in Chicago, too, and crossing my fingers for clear(ish) skies. Mostly, though, I don't know where to best get an unobstructed view of the western horizon [previously on AskMe]. I suppose the viewing party at the Adler could be interesting even if it clouds over, and the one at Northwestern would be free of skyscrapers....
posted by Westringia F. at 7:50 AM on October 23, 2014


Making a pinhole or binocular projector

We'd just leave the side of the box off, rather than put it over our head.
posted by muddgirl at 7:56 AM on October 23, 2014


I have a filter for my camera, filter glasses, filter sheets that I can use to make a filter for my binoculars and telescope. I bought all this for the last partial eclipse. It was cloudy then.

It's currently raining like a motherfucker here and will continue through tomorrow.

I'll see y'all in Kentucky in 2017, I guess.
posted by bondcliff at 9:03 AM on October 23, 2014


Can I just point the front-facing part of my cell phone camera over my shoulder at the sun and look at that?
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 10:12 AM on October 23, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'd try it but, like bondcliff, the rains are here and aren't going away.
posted by edeezy at 10:47 AM on October 23, 2014


We've got great visibility here. And if Tim Kring has taught me anything, it's that today is the perfect day to manifest superpowers... or blindness. So I'm gonna check it out.
posted by Kevin Street at 1:11 PM on October 23, 2014


Can I just point the front-facing part of my cell phone camera over my shoulder at the sun and look at that?

The sensor will probably saturate and you'll get nothing. Just white.

Just poke a hole in a piece of paper or foil and hold it over a second piece of white paper.
posted by JoeZydeco at 2:03 PM on October 23, 2014


Aww, the sun's behind the hill, now. I'd climb the other hill across the road, but I'm afraid the neighbors would see me and yell. Or shoot.
posted by dirigibleman at 2:47 PM on October 23, 2014


The Forest Service air-quality camera at White Pine Range, NV, which takes images every 15min [2560x1920 high res version], usually looks into the sun around this time. Unfortunately, it's cloudy there, too.
posted by Westringia F. at 2:53 PM on October 23, 2014


I saw it! Couldn't photograph it, though.
posted by Kevin Street at 3:15 PM on October 23, 2014 [1 favorite]


Man, that was bright! (I know, I know, I wasn't supposed to look at it directly)
posted by A Bad Catholic at 3:23 PM on October 23, 2014


I saw it. Used my camera with the longest lens on a couple extensions, stopped down manually through a polarizer. Pretty neat, if not total.
posted by notsnot at 5:13 PM on October 23, 2014 [1 favorite]


I can't be sure, but I think it's possible that the US Forest Service camera at White Pine Range that I mentioned above caught the eclipse -- or rather, caught the projection of the eclipsing moon on the clouds. I made a dropbox with some images. There's a textfile explaining what everything is, but briefly: around 4pm it looks like there's a distinctly circular patch that looks subtly different from the rest of the clouds, and which isn't seen at other times.

Of course, I may just be seeing what I want to see! If there are any photoshop whizzes who can tell me what to do to try to isolate if it's really the moon (vs just some suggestive clouds), or who want to take a crack at the images there, I'd be super-excited.
posted by Westringia F. at 10:15 AM on October 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


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