Solar Eclipse

An annular solar eclipse took place on May 20, 2012. A solar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes between Earth and the Sun. It was the first annular eclipse in the continental U.S. since the solar eclipse of May 10, 1994 and there won’t be another one of this magnitude visible in California until Sept. 23, 2071.

When I heard there was going to be an eclipse I was excited to try to capture it in a time-lapse. Having just returned from shooting a Best Buy commercial in Philadelphia all my gear had been shipped to my camera assistant’s house and to complicate things further my truck was in the shop getting the engine rebuilt. I managed to get a lift to pick up my equipment but by the time I retrieved everything I had missed the first part of the eclipse.

I grabbed two tripods and two 5D mk2 bodies and rushed down to the beach in the weird light. My plan was to have one wide angle shot with the 16-35mm and another tight shot with the 70-200mm and 2x extender giving me a 400mm.

The weird thing about an eclipse is that you really want to look at it but it can burn your retinas with invisible radiation so you really shouldn’t. I need my retinas so I used my darkest ND filter (1.2) and the live view on the camera back and fished around in the general direction of the sun until I saw it on the screen. I stopped down the aperture all the way to f/51 and set the intervalometer to 1 frame per second. In my haste I forgot to change the image format from jpg to raw, so I didn’t have much range to play with in post. At this point I realized that the 1/4″ 20 screw for my Sachtler tripod had gotten lost on the last job. So much for the second camera, and now I will always carry an extra 1/4″ 20 screw. At this point some pretty thick clouds moved in and completely obscured the sun for a while. I stopped shooting until they cleared and sipped some “coffee wine” or wine from a coffee cup with my friends on the beach.

When I downloaded the images and assembled them in AE a few days later I wasn’t entirely happy with the results I got. I was hoping to capture a “ring of fire” and this looks more like the moon but since I will have to wait another 59 years to do a re-shoot I went ahead and assembled a short video from my footage. Check it out below.

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