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Photographing Once in a Lifetime Events

Last week I was out with Gabe Biderman from National Parks at Night and a group of classmates photographing the Total Solar Eclipse.

Before the event I probably didn’t spend as much energy as my classmates trying to figure out the right exposures, I planned on seeing what the meter said and using that. Instead I just bracketed and figured I could pick the part of the experience I was interested in.
Here I was interested in the Solar Prominences. What appears to be small spots of red, are 10-100 times the size of the earth if you want to put into perspective.  This was one of my shorter exposures, 1/8000 of a second.  It separated the prominences from the corona. I know that others were bracketing since they wanted to show more of the corona.

I’m watching a class from David Hobby, and one of sections of his course is “Why do you take Pictures?”  In this case it’s to savor and share the experience.  From a scientific point of view, the folks at NASA were able to glean much more data from their jets in the stratosphere taking pictures of the eclipse.  For me, I will be able to look at these pictures and recall the emotions and this scene for the rest of my life. Having seen a partial eclipse in Chicago in the 60s, I had seen the moon obscuring parts of the sun.  But a total eclipse shows so much more.  As one of my friends says, watching a total eclipse will change your life.  I don’t know if it will change my life, but I feel much richer for having seen it.

I will say that it was the shortest two minutes I’ve spent lately. It reminds me of the days when I taking pictures of Space Shuttle launches, you end up spending your time dealing with the mechanics of documenting the event.


Here’s one of the pictures I took that shows the Solar Corona. The corona isn’t as bright, so you can’t see the prominences.

2 Responses to Photographing Once in a Lifetime Events

  1. Carol says:

    Thank you for sharing. Coul you zoom in to feature the details with suc a short exposure?

  2. Carol says:

    Could you zoom in to feature the details with such a short exposure?

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