Tips for photographing the eclipse
With the sun, moon and Earth rapidly approaching alignment at 2:34 p.m. Monday, Nikon Ambassador Lukas Gilman wants people who might be photographing the eclipse to “go out and just practice the day before.”
“Even if it’s not at the exact spot where you’re going to shoot, just go out and make sure that you know how to change the exposures in your camera, because that two and a half minutes of totality ... is going to go by in the blink of an eye,” he added.
In order not miss anything, preparation is key. Gilman, who has freelanced for the Denver Post and spent the last 18 years doing outdoor photography is heading to Jackson Hole, Wyo., another mountainous area, for Monday’s celestial show.
“I suspect it will be zoo,” he said.
Gilman plans on arriving at his location “at 5 or 6 in the morning to make sure that I’ve got my spot, because one thing that people aren’t thinking about is that everybody’s going to be out and about to do this eclipse, and traffic could get really bad,” he said.
“You want to make sure that you’re not sitting in your car stuck on a highway somewhere while this is going down. I’d recommend everybody go out there early, find their spot and enjoy the day.”
Picking that spot can be as easy as stepping out onto the back porch and pouring some lemonade, or it could require research on the Internet looking up interesting locations on satellite images, or even days and days of hiking, scouring overlooks and fields. For his part, Gilman plans on trying “to find something off the beaten path.”
Separating from the pack will allow photographers to get away from the masses and focus their lens on outstanding landscape images to produce interesting foreground elements during the eclipse.
“In photography,” Gilman said, “the landscape is in the eye of the beholder. But, it could even just be a group of trees that you’ve got and you can use those for foreground elements … you can really use anything that’s around you that you find interesting as a foreground element. It could be an old tractor, it could be a barn.
“Ideally, somebody would go out and figure out where the sun’s going to be on the horizon line and go out and sort of work with that. Figure out what they can use as a landscape element …There’s really all kinds of possibilities.
“And if somebody just wants to photography the eclipse itself, obviously going out in some area that’s wide open is going to be they’re best bet to make sure that they are not blocked by anything. But with a
little bit of ingenuity, everybody should be able to walk away with something interesting from this historic event.”
While choosing a location is important, being prepared to take photographs during the partial and total eclipse is just as necessary. Everyone should have a pair of “solar viewing glasses,” with which they can put on and observe the sun without harming their retinas.
Gilman cautioned, “We don’t want anybody looking up into the sun and becoming blind. Even though there may be a partial eclipse, I just want to make sure that everybody goes out in safety. As far as when we’re in the partial eclipse sort of phase, the first thing is that we need a solar eclipse filter.”
This filter is integral in maintaining the integrity of a camera, just as the glasses maintain the integrity of an individual’s retina.
“The reason,” Gilman said, “we’re doing that is because basically we’re pointing our camera directly at the sun, and there’s a possibility of not only damaging the sensor on the camera, but this will allow us to bring that exposure range into more in line with what we’re trying to do.”
When using a manual camera, he recommends shooting at as low an ISO as possible, then that during the partial phases of the eclipse to bracket images with shutter speeds ranging from 1/3000 of a second all the way to 2-3 seconds.
As for those of whom do not have a camera with manual capabilities, Gilman said, “If somebody doesn’t have a DSLR, they’re not sunk. A point and shoot with a long zoom is also an option.” However make
sure that “they purchase the solar film” because then “they’re going to get some pretty good results as well.”
“Once we are in total eclipse,” he added, “that’s when and only when we’re in the total eclipse should you take your solar filter of the lens, so we’re able to photograph without the safety of that filter.”
When totality occurs, people can remove their protective filters and eyeglasses to view and photograph the eclipse. Normally, the immense amount of energy coming from the sun obscures the corona (solar atmosphere) from view. However, during totality the moon’s covering of the sun will allow people to witness the corona of the sun. Once the totality finishes and the sun begins to emerge again, solar filters and solar glasses become a necessity to keep people’s eyes and cameras in proper working order.
Although the totality in Cherokee County will begin around 2:34p.m., the moon will begin transiting in front of the sun at 1:05 p.m. and end at 4 p.m. This makes for nearly three hours during which people all around will be able to view and document.
“More than anything,” Gilman said, “the takeaway is to go early. This is an event, this is something interesting. Bring a picnic, bring something to drink, and just enjoy yourself, because this is going to be quite the show and it doesn’t happen very often.
“I would hope that everybody would go out and just practice the day before ... even if it’s not at the exact spot where you’re going to shoot, just go out and make sure that you know how to (use your solar filter) and change the exposures in your camera, because that 2.5 minutes of totality ... is going to go by in the blink of an eye. I’d hate for somebody to miss that.
“It’s going to be a crazy show up above us for the total eclipse, but also turn around and look at the people around you, because it will be pretty cool for posterity’s sake to document the people that were with you and the crazy glasses and all that ... there’s definitely a myriad of opportunities to go out and have fun with this.”