Bird, wildlife, and landscape photography by Jon Rista
Partial Solar Eclipse
Earlier in October, we had a partial solar eclipse. The eclipse was visible from most of North America, however given that only around 30% of the sun was covered, most people were likely unaware of the event. I have photographed lunar eclipses on several occasions, however I had never tried to photograph a solar eclipse. In general, I lack the necessary equipment, which at the very least is enough filtration to reduce the brightness of the sun to a very tiny fraction of it’s overall power.
When this eclipse started, I decided to see if one of my standard photography neutral density filters (usually used for landscape photography) would be enough to let me image the disk of the moon. I used my Hitech 10-stop IR ND filter, which outside of the peak of the event (and even then) was not quite enough to properly filter the brightness of the sun. I finally resorted to creating a makeshift smaller aperture for my 600mm lens using a smallish hole cut into a piece of cardboard that I then simply taped to the front of my lens, along with the 10-stop ND filter.
To my surprise, I not only captured the moon passing in front of the sun, but I also captured a number of sunspots on the surface, including one particularly large group. In terms of earth-relative size, the single largest sunspot is about as large as the earth itself. The entire sunspot group is larger than the earth. The image above was captured right around the peak of the event, so the moon was just past it’s maximum coverage for this particular eclipse.
Now that I know this amazing lens can be used to image the sun, I hope to be better prepared the next time an eclipse or amazing group of sunspots rolls around. I also intend to use my 2x teleconverter to get up to 1200mm, to get some better resolving power in play for even more detail. Long term, I’ve put getting one of Lunt’s Solar Telescopes, which are some of the best scopes available for imaging the surface of the sun in high detail.