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Nikon Tips and Techniques on the Upcoming August 21 Solar Eclipse


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I tried to edit and it timed out. I wanted to make two important points.

In the video he says to "set your lens to infinity."

1st some lenses will focus beyond infinity so if you just throw focus all the way, you may be out of focus. To address this it is important to mark the focus setting for the sun pre-eclipse. This can be done by setting up your camera, tripod, lens to be used and filter, and focusing on a sunspot, of if none are present (unlikely) on the sun's limb. Mark that focus point with a piece of tape. You do not want to be fiddling with focus during totality.

2nd some things to be shot are on the moon at 243k miles and some are on the sun 93 M miles away. Depending on your lens the focus for the moon and sun will be different. The difference will be slight but enough to notice. The bigger your lens the more noticeable the different focus points will be. I will be shooting through a 1000 mirror reflex lens (with my refurbd d810) and there is definitely a difference in focus points for sun, moon, stars, planets.

There are some aspects of the eclipse that occur at moon distance, like the ragged limb of the moon (mountains) backlit by the sun, and producing "Bailey's Beads" at the beginning of totality and some that are from the sun's distance, like the Diamond ring Effect, prominences, and the corona. While the corona is wispy and soft focus may not be that big a deal, prominences--the "flames" shooting from the sun's surface, need to be sharp.

What I have done is to shoot the moon distance things up to second contact, hoping to have an op for the Diamond Ring effect, then changing focus to sun distance and shooting the rest. For this eclipse the longest anyone in the USA will have is about 2mn 40 seconds. So you have to be ready to shoot and choreographed so that you can get all your shots in a minute or so, and then just stand in awe to watch it unfold, but ready for the Diamond Ring at 3rd contact.

Totality is an unbelievably remarkable event--as imposing visually as it is spiritually, maybe not the right word, but a Majesty of the Cosmos experience like no other. A partial eclipse does not hold a candle to a total. A total is worth a significant journey, a partial, not so much.

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whoa, a view camera.

You must be mobile. While you can plan on a particular location, you have to realize that 100 miles up or down the path may present much better ops. People ask me where am I going to see it, and 6 weeks out I can only say somewhere between Nebraska and South Carolina. I will decide probably about 48+ hours pre eclipse and head there. You must have good maps. If you check the astronomy sites you'll see many ads for maps of the pathway. ( I wish GoogleMaps had a dedicated screen to it!)

I bought the Fred Espenak Solar eclipse road atlas. It's good, but in B&W and a bit hard to see. It'll do though. I am looking for some obscure backroad somewhere, but, a rest area on an interstate will do-if placed properly! An advantage of an obscure area is the quiet--you may be able to appreciate the changes in wildlife sounds, though I really never have and have been listening. You want to have a spot where you can, if possible, see a 360 degree horizon, because there will be a sunset looking sky all around you and you can see the shadow coming at you. Also, you want to be able to see a bunch of ground so you can see the 'shadow waves" which are pretty cool.


Get your glasses, so that you don't have to worry about that later. Get the cheap cardboard ones from Astronomy magazine. They are safe.

I've witnessed one with both a large group of strangers and with a small group of friends. I think i like the big group of strangers more, slightly, because it is such a communal experience that everyone is sharing

Clear skies! Can you tell I'm excited about this?:)

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For what it's worth, this falls between two trips when I'll be in the US. The last total eclipse in the UK coincided with me being on a trip to the US. The last one near the UK was when a friend had a wedding that they wanted me to shoot. Someday I hope I'll make it to an eclipse... Have fun, everyone. At least you may have a chance of driving around any weather that's in the way.
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