Juxtaposition, or How I Shot the Eclipse

I went out this morning to shoot the eclipse and all I got was this. Someone might see some symbolism here, but it’s unintentional.

Partial Eclipse of the Sun and Church

I heard people planning to use all sorts of weird contraptions in order to shoot the eclipse, but I used none of them. This is a hand-held shot at 1/4000s, f/22, ISO 200. Focal length was 200mm on an APS-C sensor (equivalent to 300mm on a full-frame). One RAW exposure, post-processed in Lightroom to fix the white balance, increase contrast and reduce highlights to make the moon more visible. Had to spend some time to erase all the dust spots on the sensor that become quite visible at a small aperture.

I saw people put 10-stop ND filters, welder’s glasses, tinfoil, X-rays and whatnot in front of their lenses. I could have done the same and got a much cleaner shape for the sun, but I decided against it. Why? Because doing so would have resulted in a neat sun against a black sky, with nothing visible in the foreground. My longest lens is 200mm and you can see above how large the sun comes out at 200mm (this image is even slightly cropped). I don’t think a tiny, albeit sharp white crescent in a sea of blackness makes for an interesting picture. Do you?

I didn’t use a tripod. Heck, I was shooting at 1/4000s. What good would a tripod be? It would only slow me down while trying to get the best framing and give me greater chances to burn the sensor, if I had let the camera with the shutter open and pointed to the sun for too long.

could have take multiple exposures, one for the sun, one for the foreground and blended them. I could’ve made the sun much bigger, if I had wanted. Well, I thought that if I was going to cheat, I could have just as well shot a white ping-pong ball, covered half of it with a coin, and pasted the result on top of any random landscape photo. Instant eclipse, any day of the year! No, thanks.

So, instead of spending time trying to select the best filters and post-processing, I just spent one hour a few days in advance scouting for a location that would have given me a good composition, with some foreground interest. This is all because I didn’t want yet another eclipse picture that was just like everybody else’s. Then this morning, just before the time of greatest coverage by the moon, I showed up at the designated place, which is a 10 minute walk away from home, took some shots, trying a few different compositions and doing some exposure bracketing, just in case. In 10 minutes I was done and back home, looking at the photos on the computer.

Am I happy? Yes. I got the image I had envisioned and it wasn’t much of a hassle. Mission accomplished.

P.S. As I use a mirrorless camera, I have no need to use filters to protect the eyes when looking through the viewfinder. I you use a reflex, adequate protection should be applied. Use Live View, if you can, and never look at the sun through the viewfinder.

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