August 2017 solar eclipse preparation

Discussion in 'Nature' started by rod_sorensen|1, Jan 12, 2017.

  1. Meant to put text with the above image. I went out and experimented a little on Saturday, right at the time of day the eclipse will occur. Used a Nikon D500/600 f4 lens/1.4X teleconverter. The picture is the very steep angle necessary for the lens to capture the sun - about 75 degrees. I had my Gitzo 1348 fully extended and still had to squat under the camera. Getting the sun in the viewfinder was extraordinarily difficult, partly due to the magnification factor, partly due to the very dark viewfinder image from the solar filter and partly because the sun was blasting in your off eye while you were trying to get the image in the viewfinder.
    Lessons learned?
    1. The 1300 mm effective field of view is probably too large. I will likely switch the camera body to a D800 or skip the teleconverter. This will make getting the target in the viewfinder easier and also allow for more space for getting the corona and prominences once totality occurs.
    2. I'm going to use a right angle viewfinder, as it will definitely help to get the target in the viewfinder more easily. No sun in your eyes.
    3. I did everything I could think of to make LiveView and the LCD screen help, but in my mind it won't work unless totality is the only imaging interest.
    4. In a short amount of playing around, I could not reproduce the rings you brought out in your images, David.
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2017
  2. Unless clouds and rain are in the forecast. o_O
    John Di Leo likes this.
  3. Hi, Rod, I fully concur with your experience. Yep, that's what I was talking about. And what you didn't mention, but I am sure experienced, was the eye fatigue factor. One eye into the black void of your VF and the other staring at the sun just isn't fun. Now add the timer of the eclipse on it. Or bugs flying around your face. It can be a real challenge.
    Shooting at less of an angle can make all the difference in the world, but this one is at/near zenith and that's tough. The right angle will help a lot though. Interesting that Live View didn't help---can you explain more?

    If one had something like this
    Lume Cube Hot Shoe Mount LC-HS11 B&H Photo Video
    and even the cheapest finderscope you could fab the two together, take the rig out to align on something terrestrial and fixed, for convenience, test it out on the moon and you'd be set. To get the sun in view you would have it attached to the camera and point the whole set toward the sun and look for the projected image of the sun thru the finderscope. If you aligned the finderscope well enough the sun will be in the camera, or very close.

    Did you find the ball head strong enough to hold the whole rig? Mine was not and i was forced to accommodate a bit of slippage. Using a real telescope mount takes care of that and if I have it set up properly can track the sun either manually of with its clock drive.
  4. The reason the LCD screen didn't really add much benefit was that you still have to search around to find the sun and the LCD angle (even with some adjustment provided on the D500) still is disadvantageous sitting at the back of the camera. I just think the right angle viewer will be much better.
    My tripod with the Arca Swiss ballhead and long Really Right Stuff QR plate is very solid, although you have to be careful getting the whole rig up in place and screwing the clamp tightly down. I debated getting the right parts to mount my lens to my Losmandy GM8, but decided it was just too much stuff to buy and then haul to the location and set up.
    I agree with your thought about a DIY hot shoe mounted "finder scope". That would be perfect. Line it up with the moon to test image placement in viewfinder and then do it with the sun, remembering your eclipse glasses.
  5. Sandy Vongries

    Sandy Vongries Moderator Staff Member

    Why not construct any of a broad variety simple gunsights -- any materials, low cost, test in advance. No optics required.
  6. nononononono. You were good up to the "remembering your eclipse glasses" part.
    No filter and most certainly no eclipse glasses will stand up to a processed and focused image of the sun. Even through a 6x finderscope, it will/could burn right through and all the way to your retina. A filter should only be in front of the lens, iow between the sun and the lens. If any optics are used projection of the image is safest and works. You can use the palm of your hand. You just want to know that the sun is in there--the finderscope--and when it is it will project. Or did I misunderstand you?

    The problem I see with that is that you wind up looking at the sun, albeit with glasses, and is there a gun sight that mounts to a hot shoe? That is the major speed bump. Though I suppose that could work? And I suppose you mean a physical not optical gun sight?

    I'm really surprised nothing like that exists? If you google it, there is interest, but most posts talk about a DIY project using a harvested old flash for the shoe mount and then mounting something onto that.
  7. Sandy Vongries

    Sandy Vongries Moderator Staff Member

    Being a gun guy all my life -- (e.g. since about 6 yrs.on), this seems pretty simple to me. Shoe mounts can be "harvested" off junk flash or made easily. They are for one time use for most and only have to be durable enough for that. Probably the simplest version, a grooved sight. A piece of wood angle molding, flattened on the bottom, mounted on a shoe or with field expedient -- tape or rubber band, adjust till in line with the lens. A piece of tubing, plastic is easiest, drilled with nail post, like the old German sniper scopes, or, using a compass, create quadrant holes and string tight wire cross hairs. In every case, getting it to line up with the lens will take a little tweaking. If you aren't into DIY, there are many old time Black Powder Rifle Sights that would work IMO. Google Brownells.
  8. Agree. It is a simple thing. Affixing it to the camera is the tricky part, you can't just stick it on with anything anywhere without blocking knobs, buttons, etc. And it has to be secure enough to work twice, not once. One to align and stay aligned to, two, work on eclipse day.
    I was thinking you could use a cardboard tube, longer the better, with some needle and thread crosshairs, they don't have to be exact at all, just taut. A secure paper towel tube would likely work fine.
  9. Sandy Vongries

    Sandy Vongries Moderator Staff Member

    Unlike a gunsight, risk to life is not involved, but when is this event going to be repeated? You could use cardboard -- I'd find something sturdier. If I did use cardboard, it would be the core from Reynolds Wrap or Saran Wrap -- and thread is too thin -- you'll need stoutish wire. IMO Thread would just vanish in the glare. To attach to the camera -- as simple as a piece of tongue depressor (or stable plastic) cut to fit. I'm not leaving the ranch in a bad Wildfire season for a lifetime photo, but I could certainly work up a couple of basic options and post photos.
  10. I'm set because I am using a telescope mount with a finderscope that is aligned. Others may benefit though?
    Repeated in 7 years . Tongue blade(depressor) is a good idea for stability. The wire crosshairs do not have to be exactly 90degrees. As long as the viewer know where the object should be relative to the crosshairs, the sun is big enough that it should be close to aligned. Not like looking for a star or other pinpoint of light.
    ah, too bad about the wildfires up there, but if the op arises, take it.
  11. John,
    Excellent warning, but no I wasn't planning to look through any magnified optic at the sun.
    Revo Hot Shoe to 1/4"-20 Male Post Adapter SA-CS-14M B&H
    Bought the above from B&H. I think I'll mount a small block of wood with an appropriately sized hole drilled through it to serve as an auxiliary viewfinder.
  12. FWIW, the Jackson Hole WY Gov't agencies have published a "TETON SOLAR ECLIPSE COMMUNITY OPERATIONS MANUAL".

    Information For Locals | Teton Eclipse

    Descriptions of traffic adjustments and parking restrictions are interesting. The checklists on what to bring are good.

    The eclipse is near the zenith so sites that include both the eclipsed sun and the Tetons require some serious hiking. If I were to venture out (along with a few thousand other photographers), I think a good scenic shot would be from a high elevation on the east side of the valley to capture the shadow moving east across the Grand. I tried to capture the approaching shadow during an earlier eclipse - it's tough but today's post processing software may be able to do a proper job of enhancing contrast and light levels. The Snake River overlook would also be a good site. I imagine that pre-dawn arrival at a premium site will be necessary and the checklists for survival in place for a full day and advice about traffic in the manual are germane.

    I did not see mention of the temperature drop as totality approaches. If you layer up for a pre-dawn arrival, you're set.

    With the exception of scenic vista photo sites, any place where you can safely park within the path of totality, without clouds obscuring the sun, is a suitable spot to watch the event.

  13. cool! post some pix of your rig when you have it set up. And how well it works.

    I know it's one of the advertised big deals of the experience, the temp drop and the night time animals, but in truth, I've not been witness to that. I am in no way denying it, but just haven't seen/felt/heard that, and I was looking for it.

    yes, agree fully. I have a feeling I will be on some obscure backroad in Ne or Mo
    One thing I have seen is the moon's shadow approaching; it's coming at you at about 2300mph. The "trouble" is at that time there is so much happening, like Bailey's Beads, Diamond Ring, that you can get lost in the visual splendor of it all.

    I came across an article this morning that I found very interesting in the way it described the event. I thought it was spot on. It's worth the short read
    "2017 Total Solar Eclipse will be 'one of the events of the century'" and it was on the Fox News site
  14. 2017 Total Solar Eclipse will be 'one of the events of the century'
    Idaho officials order disaster declaration for solar eclipse
    I think the top link might be what John was referring to. The second link is a story about Idaho actually declaring a disaster for the eclipse to position itself for possible federal funding if it needs it. That seems like a possible overreaction.
    Having said that, after reading the above Teton stuff, I'm kind of glad I convinced myself a few months ago not to go there. The Tetons are one of my top 3 favorite places in the continental US, but it looks like it might be a zoo there. My plan for northern KS as ground zero, with western driving into NE or even WY if necessary, seems like a better idea.
  15. Yes, the top link, but the bottom one is interesting also.
    Get ready for the H Y P E.
    We still have not heard from the alien conspiracists or doomsday peeps. The Rigelians, or maybe the Pleaidians, will destroy us all! Stay inside! watch it on NEWS4, Your Eclipse Central! Do not go outside until we tell you it is safe! Let Us Watch It For You!
    Actually, I think the Idaho/Tetons disaster declaration is so over the top. People are going to be there for maybe a day or two, there is NO Disaster. The path is miles and miles wide and crosses a continent, and it ARMED with a shadow. How scary is that.
    Gives new meaning to being afraid of your own shadow. People are gonna watch then leave departing in every direction. They are not escaping something. They are not starving or lacking clean water. They are going home. OMG. If that's what happens in Idaho, will Nashville be burned to the ground by starving hordes? Idaho should get ready for a traffic jam... maybe. Get some First Responders out there to direct traffic and they will be ready when astronomers and photographers fight it out for space on the scenic byways of the Famous Potatoes state. Probably not, you think? Geez, but that's a good reason to avoid the herd mentality and the Official Wisdom that accompanies it.
    Coming from a hurricane prone state, a survivor of Katrina, this type of hyperbole is all too common. Disaster around every corner. There are going to be some traffic jams, as well as people picnicking with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, kids running around. There is NO disaster, unless for Idaho's Finest a traffic snarl for a couple of hours is a disaster. Preparation for lots of people and traffic is appropriate, but will it really be that much worse than July 4th or Labor Day or Memorial Day?
    Sorry for the rant, but it often seems these sky is falling people do so to justify their budgets and their existence.
    Back to the original topic, the eclipse, it is a sense that the sky is falling as the shadow descends, I forgot to mention that earlier.
    Rod, I too am looking at Ne and Ks and Mo, maybe as far west as the National Homestead Park in SE Ne.
    bhmcintosh likes this.
  16. bit of a reprieve, in most places along the path the sun is a bit over 60 degrees from the horizon. That really does help with the ergos
  17. OK, thanks all for a VERY enlightening thread. Between this discussion, Mr. Eclipse's website, and some other threads here and there, I've got a pretty good picture of what to expect and how to go about managing shooting the eclipse. Now it comes down to pulling the trigger on a lens, and I'm completely in Waffle Mode :confused:. So, a last minute straw poll before I pull the trigger (sometime this weekend to allow for shipping, setup and practice time):

    1) That silly little 500mm mirror lens
    2) A Sigma 400/5.6 APO mf , prob. with a 1.4x converter
    3) A Nikon 80-400/4.5-5.6, and crop

    Option 1's just listed for completeness' sake; far as I can tell the cheap reflex lenses have too much sample variation to risk getting a dud. The 80-400'd be the most useful *after* the eclipse, for concerts and airshows where my 18-200 daily-driver doesn't have quite enough reach. But the Sigma and a converter would get me to 500+mm, and the D7000 has plenty of low-light capability that I'm not too worried about losing the extra F-stop to the converter, and it'd be quite a bit less expensive. :) Any last minute thoughts?
  18. I would opt for the sigma with the converter, assuming IQ is equivalent to Nikon??? 400 x 1.4 = 700, is that the way it works? and the 5.6 would then be ~~f8?
    That would give you a focal length of 700mm, and to my view i think that is pretty close/ideal considering alignment ease and field of view. But, the Nikon does that too, right?
    With careful focusing, and remember the shadow/moon is about 93 million miles closer than the bright bits so focus can be different, and a stable mount you should get some very memorable images. The Nikon, do you own it already(?), with a converter might be more salable/useful after--and there may be some really good deals on long lenses afterward! I would at least put into the equation costs of each setup, forgetting the 500 mirror because of sample variability.
    If you've already reviewed the IQ of the Sigma and the Nikon zoom, and are comfy with it, look at costs. 700mm is 700mm so it would come down to, in my mind:
    do you want to keep it after
    will you sell it after?
    what is out of pocket $$ ?
    (not in that order)

    don't worry about low light capability...does not come into play, at least not significantly

    just my 2 cents
  19. I may have missed it in this long thread but is there a detailed map showing the smaller county roads that are in the path of totality? I envision a cloudy day and trying to figure out where to drive to avoid big traffic jams by finding small roads that cross the path of the moon.

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