On Photographing the 2017 Solar Eclipse

Photographing the August 21, 2017 solar eclipse in NYC area

Yesterday, those of us living in NYC area got to watch the solar eclipse, a partial solar eclipse that is, mostly through layers of thin, and at times thick clouds. While I did not appreciate the thick clouds, the thin ones added a certain dramatic element to the experience. A unique experience to say the least, but, in my own humble opinion, not as dramatic as I would have expected it to be. Nonetheless, I’m glad that I got to witness it, and also photograph it.

Clouds cover the solar eclipse of August 21, 2017. Photo by Alina Oswald. All Rights Reserved.
Thick and threatening clouds partially cover the partial solar eclipse of August 21, 2017. Photographed through a Lee solar filter. Photo by Alina Oswald. All Rights Reserved.

 

There was no “moment” of silence or of darkness or of wind quieting down and animals starting to act differently. To be fair, there are not many animals in the NYC Metro area, but still…. I think that that much anticipated moment just didn’t happen, in part because it was a partial eclipse.

I found myself staring at the sun and moon through the solar eclipse glasses, binoculars or lens filters (thanks B&H!) and having a bit of an out-of-body kind of experience, in a way. I was watching this unique phenomenon unfold, in real time, while, also in real time, I was trying to focus on photographing the event. Especially during those few hours of the eclipse, our tasks here on Earth seemed minuscule, unimportant, and yet still intrinsic to our lives. We, as inhabitants of this planet–together with our worries and struggles and happy moments–seem minuscule and somehow unimportant, just a small, tiny part of the universe. Events like yesterday’s eclipse tend to put things into perspective.

But, a tiny part of the universe or not, (and also clouds or not), I did get to photograph the partial eclipse as it crossed the Garden State sky.

Here’s a picture, in color (blue) and black-and-white of “the first bite” the firs moment the moon starts covering the sun. The images below and most of the images taken during yesterday’s eclipse were photographed through a Lee solar eclipse filter.

August 21, 2017 Solar Eclipse over Garden State Skies
The Very “First Bite” – The beginning of the solar eclipse of August 21, 2017. Photographed through a Lee solar filter. Photo by Alina Oswald. All Rights Reserved.

As I write this, I’m also just starting to look through the solar eclipse images from yesterday. Here are a few, with more to be added very soon.

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A few thoughts of yesterday’s solar eclipse:

  • use solar filters to protect your eyes and your camera!
  • don’t forget about composition, and, if shooting on a partly-cloudy day, include the clouds to enhance a mood
  • shoot throughout the eclipse (in this case, about two hours), on and off
  • capture “the first bite,” the last bite, and the peak moment
  • focus on the sun, and zoom in/out while focusing on the sun, on the subject
  • vary camera settings slightly, keeping the shutter speed pretty fast; I’ve shot most of the partial solar eclipse pictures at ISO 200, f/11 and varied the shutter speed to adjust for cloud cover

Photographing the solar eclipse:

  • it helped me learn more about photographing the sun, as well as the moon, something I’ve always been interested in
  • it forced me to review my photo gear and consider new options (what to keep, what to replace, etc)  – A note: I did use a tripod, but found it quite difficult to point and focus the camera while on the tripod; oh, and I can still feel my neck and shoulders!
  • it gave me the chance to go down the memory lane and revisit the science describing the eclipse, again, something I’ve always been interested in
  • it got me out of the house and doing something different and interesting and witnessing something amazing; put things into perspective, refreshed the mind in a way

So, until the next major solar eclipse on April 8, 2024, here are a few more images from yesterday’s solar eclipse, August 21, 2017:

August 21, 2017 Solar Eclipse over Garden State Skies
“Last Bite” ? The final moments of the solar Eclipse of August 21, 2017, as it appeared over NYC area skies. Photo by Alina Oswald.
August 21, 2017 Solar Eclipse over Garden State Skies
At times, thick, threatening clouds covered the partial solar eclipse of August 21, 2017, as it showed itself over Garden State skies. Photographed through a Lee solar filter by Alina Oswald.

As always, thanks for stopping by,

Alina Oswald

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