Category: Astrophotography

Total Solar Eclipse August 21, 2017 in Tennessee

I finally got the time to get some eclipse pictures together! Between increased duties at work, the long drive back from Tennessee, and hurricane Harvey, I have been a wee bit busy, sorry!

Almost a year ago my wife and I decided we were going to go see the total solar eclipse 2017. Looking at a list of total solar eclipses, this was the only one until 2024. So we decided to go. For us, the best place to see the eclipse was in Tennessee so that is where we decided to go.

Early on Saturday 19th my wife and I loaded up Buster (my MINI Countryman) and headed up to Memphis. We spend the night there and had a little fun on Beale street. Since it was my wife’s birthday and she was being nice enough to let me head to the eclipse, I figured she should have a little fun, and we did! We did make sure to call it a night early enough so that we wouldn’t have an issue driving up closer to the central line the next morning however.

Sunday the 20th we ate lunch at the Hard Rock on Beale street (Hard Rocks are kinda our little tourist thing) and then headed for Paris, TN. This was our base camp as it allowed me to keep an eye on the weather and had easy access north, west or south to wherever the skies were clear. I could not afford to miss this so I was making sure.

I made plans for three locations, one primary, one further south and one further north. A good portion of the evening was switching between weather apps seeing who said what. All the while I had the weather channel on the TV going. Yeah, I was a little over the top.

After figuring out what time I would have to get up to make the worst case destination in my plans, we went out and had a nice little dinner, then headed to bed.

The next morning the weather was awesome so we headed to the Eclipse Event in Clarksville, TN at the Old Glory Distillery which was right in the middle of the total solar eclipse 2017 path of totality. The people there were awesome and their spirits were awesome too! Unfortunately their stuff is only available in Tennessee so that may mean we have to go back, heh.

All over Clarksville there were vendors on the side of the road selling everything from water to t-shirts. There was a really great turnout which I think is fantastic. Some people live their whole lives and never experience one of these so it was great to see so many people, especially children, coming out to watch it.

Setting up telescopes for the solar eclipseI set up my 110mm Orion refractor I use for imaging on my Orion Sirius mount, installed my Thousand Oaks glass filter and then fired up the laptop. Next to this setup I put my old Nikon D90 DSLR on a tripod with a 200mm 2.8 ED lens and a 1.4 teleconverter using Baader Solar Film. I also had a video camera using Baader film mounted below the refractor.

My wife in the shade staying cool while watching the laptop screen.It was hot in the parking lot so I put up a little shade tent and let my wife sit under it watching the laptop while I stayed out in the sun making sure everything went well, it didn’t. It took forever to get the mount to line up on the sun, then it wouldn’t track, then a cable came unplugged. It was a nightmare. At just a couple minutes to first contact I told my wife I did not think I would be ready in time. I was fortunately wrong.

I also tried to take a total solar eclipse video but had a problem with the video camera so there is no video unfortunately.

Yes, I tested everything well in advance to the event, but even so, things can still go wrong. I am just thankful that the only real disappointment was that the video was completely useless, both cameras got plenty of great images.

I did decide that my old method of using the shadow behind the telescope to line it up on the sun was a terrible idea. I have since acquired a TeleVue Sol Searcher and will never go back. This thing makes it so very simple to get any telescope lined up in seconds.

Let’s take a look at some images!

The first one is a compilation of images as the sun changed, always wanted one of these images. I did make one of the last eclipse I imaged which was an annular eclipse. While not quite as amazing as a full eclipse, the annular was still incredible and the ring of fire it shows when it reaches annularity is really nice.

Progression of a total solar eclipse

Next we have the money maker, total eclipse. The rays coming out are simply astounding.

Totality.

And here is one of the chromosphere:

Prominences shown in pink around the edge of the eclipseThis is an  enlargement from the D90 which is far inferior to the ones taken through the telescope with the D7000, however you can clearly see the red chromosphere showing up as pink here. This only happens for a few seconds so the fact that I captured them is pretty cool.

One note I want to make is that when you get the chance to see one of these, do not pass it up. Being there and looking around is simply amazing. No other time in my life have I seen light like that, dark but very edgy with multiple shadows because of the way the sunlight shines around the moon. It is nothing like you think, it is way cooler.

Lastly is this image:

Having fun after it was all over.After the eclipse was over it was time to go inside and buy some of their limited edition Solar Shine, made just for the eclipse. It was all a blast!

Driving back to our hotel virtually all of the vendors on the side of the roads were gone which I found odd as there were a ton of people on the roads heading back to wherever they were staying for the night. Seems to me that would have been an excellent time to put everything on discount and sell it rather than tote it back with you.

I know Sue Ann and I brought more back than we took ūüėČ

I would really like to thank all the people at Old Glory, they were amazing! Also thanks to all the people who bought my book How to Take Pictures of an Eclipse. Hope to see you all at the next eclipse in 2023 (Annular) and 2024 (Total here in Texas, yeah!).

I hope you enjoyed reading about our eclipse journey!

 

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Its been a while, but there is a reason…

It has been a long time since I posted here, things have been crazy busy. Although my standard commercial photography has been part of that, unfortunately some of the other things I enjoy such as shooting sports have had to take a back seat while I completed something I never thought I would actually do, write a book.

Yep, I can hear my English teachers crying in agony now. And yep, it is about photography…

 

If you would like more information you can visit the book’s website here:

http://www.allans-stuff.com/leap

visit the discussion board for the book here:

http://www.allans-stuff.com/forum

and even purchase the book if you like, here:

https://amzn.to/2Jq1mTi

It will be available through Amazon US and Amazon in Europe in a few days, with wider distribution in the months to follow.

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Annular solar eclipse road trip and more!

My wife and I decided to travel to Albuquerque New Mexico for the annular solar eclipse, that is where the moon comes directly between the sun and our little earth. We choose that city because it was far enough west to see the complete annular part of the eclipse and was directly on the center line where the moon would be exactly in the center. Here is a poster of the images I took while there:

Annular solar eclipse

I even shot a little video of the eclipse and if you missed the actual eclipse, you can see it in less than 60 seconds by clicking below

eclipse-01

If you want to see upcoming solar eclipse dates, check out NASA’s eclipse page.

While in the area, no astronomy buff would dare leave before seeing the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, also know as the Very Large Array or VLA. This has been included in many movies such as Contact and is an absolutely awesome place to visit.

VLA1

Very Large Array 2

You can read a ton more information about the very large array Wikipedia page.

While there was still some daylight left we turned east and went to White Sands National Monument. This place is just breathtaking. Their sign says something about you must see the place at sunset to really get an appreciation of the beauty of it. I agree. My sunset picture does NOT do this place justice and I am still trying to coax a better image out of what I have. The entire sky just lights on fire, and I mean the entire sky, not just the area close to the setting sun, it is simply amazing.

Around here when the sun goes down you get some red/orange towards the setting sun. You can even get some up close to the zenith if you are lucky. Here, the zenith was on fire and the horizon to the east was showing some red/orange colors too. I would not have believed it had I not seen it.

White sands

White sands at sunset

More information can be found at the White Sands National Monument Wikipedia page.

We went for the annular solar eclipse and wound up seeing so much more, what an awesome trip. I hope you enjoy looking at the images as much as I enjoyed taking them!

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Pushing youself as a photographer

One of the hardest things to do when both your job and your hobby is photography is pushing yourself to be better and keeping things interesting. If all you ever do is shoot one thing, or one small group of things then you get burned out in your job and bored with your hobby.

In order to stop that from happening to me I am sure you have noticed that on this blog there is a very wide array of different types of photography. That list now gets every wider, by several billion miles!

This is my new astrophotography rig, if you look closely at the bottom right you will see one of my Nikon bodies hanging off the back of the scope. Astronomy is something that has always facinated me and this seemed like a logical and exciting way to keep photography interesting for me.

This is M8, the Lagoon Nebula.

And here we have M31, the Andromeda galaxy.

While this is still photography, it is so much more. Learning about the sky, our solar system, our galaxy, and the entire universe we call home is exciting and mind blowing all at the same time. Spending hours imaging the sky will make anyone feel humble.

Enjoy!

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