SHOOTING THE 2017 NORTH AMERICAN TOTAL ECLIPSE

TIPS FROM OLMPUS VISIONARIES ALEX MCCLURE & JAY DICKMAN
Shot by Olympus Visionary Alex McClure.


DID YOU KNOW THAT THE 2017 NORTH AMERICAN TOTAL ECLIPSE WILL OCCUR ON AUGUST 21?

It's been nearly 100 years since the last time that a total eclipse crossed over the entire United States, and there will not be another one for seven years. This total eclipse will pass over many states in the US, including: Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina.

It will make it's full journey across the country in under 2 hours, and in most locations you will only be able to view it for around 2 minutes.

How can you capture this historic event safely? We have some tips for making the most out of this total eclipse!


WARNINGS:

  • Looking directly at a solar eclipse with your naked eye or through a view finder without appropriate eye protection can cause serious irreversible eye/vision damage, including blindness. Please photograph responsibly and in a safe manner.

  • Photographing a solar eclipse without appropriate filters can cause significant damage to your camera. Use appropriate solar filters when photographing the solar eclipse.

OLYMPUS VISIONARY ALEX MCCLURE

When shooting a solar eclipse – just as with shooting the sun at any time – the biggest thing you need to think about is protecting your eyes and your camera’s sensor.

You will be able to practice on the sun before the eclipse, which I highly recommend, as it will get you familiar with a solar set-up.

WARNING: Always remember that the sun is extremely bright, and produces very damaging ultraviolet and infrared radiation. DO NOT STARE into the sun or look through the view finder without a solar filter on.

Shot taken with an Olympus camera. ISO 100, f22.0, 1/8000s.

The biggest trick to shooting the sun is utilizing filters. I am going to talk about the 3 different options you have when it comes to filters.

The other tools you will need – in addition to your camera and lens – are a tripod, to keep your camera steady, and a clear, cloudless view of the sky.

So let’s talk filters! There are 3 basic types of filters you can use to photograph the sun…

The first is the solar filter. They are the ONLY filters recommend by experts at NASA, the National Science Foundation and the American Astronomical Society. You can buy these as a screw-in filter, or buy sheets and make your own filter with something like Baader Planetarium AstroSolar safety film.

Shot with the Solar Filter, I was able to shoot at 1/160 second at f/18 and ISO 200.

Shot with a 10 + 6 Stop ND filter, I was able to shoot at 1/160 second at f/18 and ISO 200.

The second type is filter is a neutral density (ND) filter. You need at least 16 stops, and you must use the live view on the LCD screen to view the eclipse because the ND filter will not protect your eyes from the sun’s ultraviolet and infrared radiation.

The third type of filter is a Welder’s screen, with #14 Welder’s Glass, which a lot of photographers use. You would mount this glass to the front of the camera lens. These can be found at a local hardware store. You would have to do major color adjustments in post-production and the quality of the image is not as good as the first two options.

Shot with the Welding Screen, I was able to shoot at 1/30 second at f/22 and ISO 200.

When shooting an eclipse, if you want to add elements - like a tower or buildings – then you might have a few more problems like the decrease of sharpness from diffraction.

Shot taken with an Olympus camera. ISO 100, f22.0, 1/500s.

I might also recommend using an Astro filter on your Olympus camera. I made my Astro filter by using a filter holder adapter ring, a little double sided tape, and cut out of Baader Planetarium AstroSolar safety film.

You should have no problem shoot the eclipse with your Olympus OM-D’s. Just set your camera and focus to M, use the live view to locate the sun and the 14x zoom function to dial in your focus.

Happy shooting everyone!

- Alex

OLYMPUS VISIONARY JAY DICKMAN

Welcome to the 2017 eclipse! I’ll be in Dubois, Wyoming for the event, where we will experience 2 + minutes of totality.

Shooting with a super-telephoto – like the M.Zuiko 75-300mm f4.5-6.7 or the M.Zuiko 300mm f4.0 IS PRO with the MC-14 teleconverter – provides an ideal package for capturing the moment where the moon slips across the sky to cover the sun. When the “diamond ring” effect occurs, that is a magical moment.

But, and this is important, be sure and photograph the event itself. Shoot wide with your M.Zuiko 7-14mm f2.8mm PRO, M.Zuiko 8mm f1.8 PRO, M.Zuiko 12-40mm f2.8 PRO or your M.Zuiko 12-100mm f4.0 IS PRO lenses a wide-angle picture illustrating the event and the place you are in. The eclipse images are wonderful, but what makes your photo unique? In so many cases it’s a sense of place. I’ll be in the Wind River Mountains of Wyoming, so I hope to shoot mountains, horses, something unique to my area, along with that “hole in the sky.” So, look around, there are wonderful and telling images available during this lifetime event. Unbelievable photos to be made of the event itself, but look around and capture how the light is creating an other-worldly look on the landscape. These can be the photos that will be special and will illustrate what was so wonderful about this incredible event!

- Jay

ADDITIONAL TIPS & RESOURCES*

Not a rocket scientist? You can still be an eclipse expert by checking out Nasa's Eclipse 2017 website.

Want more? Check out these eclipse photography tips from our partners at B&H:

  • The day of the eclipse is not the time to try out new solar viewing or camera gear. A total eclipse is often a once-in-a-lifetime event and you will want to be very familiar and practiced with your photographic process before the big show.
  • A day or two before the eclipse, scout your location and verify that the sun's path across the sky is not going to be obstructed.
  • Be sure to have sufficient battery power and data storage for the event. You do not want to run out of juice or "film" just before the eclipse reaches totality!
  • Do not be afraid to underexpose by a stop or two. Check your histogram to verify exposure and definitely avoid blowing out highlights.
  • Be familiar with the dynamic range of the different phases of the solar eclipse and the corona and have a game plan in mind for exposing for what you want to capture. Also, bracket your images heavily as an exposure backup.

Read more at the B&H Solar Eclipse website, plus shop for solar filters, viewing glasses and other eclipse gear.

* Olympus is not responsible for content, tips, products and recommendations found on external sites.

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