Monday, May 21, 2012

Annular Eclipse 2012

For some reason, I didn't find out about the eclipse until Friday. We ended up at my friend's back yard in Palos Verdes which had a pretty unobstructed view west. There were seven of us in total and we had to share on pair of paper solar glasses with mylar lenses. I looked online for photography tips and got a bit freaked out. I know you're not supposed to look at the sun directly with the naked eye but I guess it can also burn out digital camera image sensors. People were recommending on using a very dark N400 neutral density filter which is about 9 F-stops but I only had a 3 F-stop 0.9D (N8) filter.

First attempt using program mode... didn't work that well.

After tinkering with the settings, I took off the UV filter, set the camera to manual focus, and set the aperture (F-40) and shutter speed (1/4000 sec) to let in as little light as possible. This was at 6:19pm.

Full-coverage (for Los Angeles anyway) at 6:39pm. There is still way too much light so the image is not sharp. I really needed a darker filter and a longer lens. This was taken with my Sony a55V using a zoom lens at 250mm. I had another zoom lens that can go to 300mm but I didn't have a filter for it. Unfortunately all three lenses I own has different filter diameters.

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I also tried to take photos using my Panasonic DMC-TZ3 point-and-shoot with the mylar glasses placed in front of the lens. It was hard to hold and the camera had problems focusing.

One of my friends is an avid iPhone photographer so he also tried the mylar glasses. However, without optical zoom the image was way too small. My other friend was trying to take a picture of the iPhone screen at the same time so I took a photo of everyone.

I just ordered a cheapo variable neutral density filter that goes from N2 to N400. It appears to be two polarizing filters that rotate to let in variable amounts of light. It's not the same as a real N400 filter but it should work. I'm ready for the next eclipse visible in LA in 2071!

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