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Solar Eclipse, May 20, 2012, from Albuquerque, NM

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Thread started 23 May 2012 (Wednesday) 13:21   
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astrostu
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6.24% size Solar Eclipse montage, Type 1c Version 1.3

This compilation of photographs from the May 20, 2012, annular eclipse was generated after a lengthy and involved process.

Update: I've now posted a video of this: YouTube Link!external link


Taking the Photos

The following setup was used:
  • Tripod: Gitzo with ball head.
  • Camera Body: Canon 7D.
  • Lens: Canon 400mm f/5.6L with 2x extender.
  • Filters: Hoya ND400 and B+W ND1.8.


The lens was focused manually prior to the eclipse, and focus was checked periodically throughout. The built-in electronic level was used periodically throughout the eclipse.

Roughly every 90 seconds, 5 photographs were taken in quick succession throughout the duration of the eclipse. During some of the more interesting parts (beginning, sunset, into and out of annularity), photo rate was increased to roughly every 60 or 30 seconds, but these were excluded from the montage. For any future work, I need to remember to do this automatically via a computer interface.

Camera settings were:

  • f-stop: Fixed at f/11.
  • ISO: 100 except for the last few which were at ISO 200 and 400 due to the sun being very dim as it set
  • Shutter Speed: Varied between 1/800 sec and 1/20 sec. Without a tracking mount set up, 1/25 sec was the longest possible without noticeable motion blur.


Additional photographs were taken with an old Canon Rebel and 24-70mm f/2.8L lens.


Processing

Step 1: Every set of 5 images were processed in Adobe Photoshop's Camera Raw with a temperature of 4800 (such that the first sun image was white in the middle) and tint of +10. The red/cyan and blue/yellow chromatic aberrations ("fringe") were attempted to be fixed in this, as well, though this was a rough fix. Images were cropped to just the sun. These were then opened as 16-bit color images.

Step 2: Every set of 5 were then manually aligned, keyed to the first image in the set, by using the Difference blending mode and minimizing the difference.

Step 3: The five layers in Photoshop were combined into a single Stack, and the Stack Mode was set to Median to attempt to reduce the noise from atmospheric turbulence. A small amount of sharpening was added via Unsharp Mask to the Stack with a radius of 3 px.

Step 4: They Stack was duplicated and the individual color channels (RGB) were extracted as B&W layers. (The duplicate was then removed.) These RGB layers were manually aligned again via the Difference method to remove the chromatic aberration as much as possible. For the images as the sun got lower in the sky, a small Scale Transform was performed on the R layer to get it to align properly with the G and B (scaling was between 99.5% and 100.2% and was occasionally just in height or width).

Step 5: The individual color layers were then colorized by adding black to R/G/B gradient adjustment layers, and the G and B formerly B&W layers were set to Screen in the Layer Mode. Two small Curves adjustment layers were then added, the first to slightly darken the image such that it had the same contrast and luminosity as the original, and the second so that the sky was black. These were all uniformly applied via a custom Action for all the sets of 5 images. This was then saved as a 16-bit PSD file and then flattened and saved as an 8-bit JPG file.

Step 6: These were all then compiled into the montage shown above (and ones below). In this process, all images were rotated relative to the first sun image such that prominent features (sunspots and then light filaments) were overlapping. Some of the colors in the last dozen suns (during sunset) were not a smooth progression from the yellowing disk to deep red, so Hue/Saturation adjustment layers were added and the Hue adjusted between +3 and +14.

Step 7: A Curves layer was added to the overall montage to bring the center of the first few suns up to roughly 95% full-white.

Step 8: The black background was removed from each sun image with a simple Magic Wand Selection (20 tolerance). A small black Stroke and black Shadow were added to the Layer Styles. Types "#a" do NOT have the shadow, while types "#b" DO have the shadow and "#c" have a thinner shadow.

Step 9: The background image was added, taken roughly 5 minutes before the sun dipped below the horizon as an HDR with exposures 1/60-1/500 sec (f/4.5, ISO 100). Text was added to the bottom.

The final, full-sized image is 72.1" by 48.067" at 300ppi, each sun being roughly 6" in diameter at 300ppi. Seeing was good enough and the images high enough resolution that you can separate individual member sunspots in the groups (when the sunspots were not covered by the moon nor the sun too low).


All that said, I'm trying to figure out how to best present these. First, there's the variation on the montage above. I'm a very linear thinker, and this grid-like display obviously reflects that. Within that, I have a few variations. Which do you think is best?

IMAGE: http://photos.sjrdesign.net/images/eclipse_solar_201205_003pct_0_v1.3.jpg
3.12% size Solar Eclipse montage, Type 0 Version 1.3

IMAGE: http://photos.sjrdesign.net/images/eclipse_solar_201205_003pct_1a_v1.3.jpg
3.12% size Solar Eclipse montage, Type 1a Version 1.3

IMAGE: http://photos.sjrdesign.net/images/eclipse_solar_201205_003pct_1b_v1.3.jpg
3.12% size Solar Eclipse montage, Type 1b Version 1.3

IMAGE: http://photos.sjrdesign.net/images/eclipse_solar_201205_003pct_1c_v1.3.jpg
3.12% size Solar Eclipse montage, Type 1c Version 1.3

IMAGE: http://photos.sjrdesign.net/images/eclipse_solar_201205_003pct_2a_v1.3.jpg
3.12% size Solar Eclipse montage, Type 2a Version 1.3

IMAGE: http://photos.sjrdesign.net/images/eclipse_solar_201205_003pct_2c_v1.3.jpg
3.12% size Solar Eclipse montage, Type 2c Version 1.3

IMAGE: http://photos.sjrdesign.net/images/eclipse_solar_201205_003pct_3c_v1.3.jpg
3.12% size Solar Eclipse montage, Type 3c Version 1.3


Beyond that, what's a good way to display these? I had thought I could do a "path through the sky" type of display, but unfortunately since the annular eclipse was only 94.4% (one of the absolute least-covered eclipses possible since the moon was almost exactly at apogee during this), the sky was still incredibly bright around the sun during the eclipse, and so I couldn't get a "clean" sky and lanscape image to do this ... anything I do would be incredibly obviously photoshopped since it would just be the sun on top of some random sky image. And I don't have other ideas.

Also thinking of maybe making a movie montage? I have 75 final frames plus I took a bit of HD video of the sun coming out of annularity and the sun setting.

I'm also trying to decide if I should correct the vertical distortion in the images as the sun set. The distortion is relatively minor, maybe only ~5% until the last few shots when it's closer to 10-15%.

Thoughts?

Post #1, May 23, 2012 13:21:02


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S.R.M.
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Great series Stuart! I prefer the "cleaner" type 0 montage (without the background image), personally. Would be interested to see a movie montage as well!

Cheers,
Stephen

Post #2, May 23, 2012 18:29:30



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CameraMan
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Cool montage. I'd like to see the individual shots too if you have them posted somewhere.

Post #3, May 23, 2012 18:32:49


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astrostu
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Thanks, SRM. The cleaner black background version is what I typically do (used it for my moon and Venus stuff), but I thought I'd try to get more artsy this time. I may be able to get a movie version up tonight ... today's "email catchup day" so we'll see :).

Post #4, May 23, 2012 18:33:17


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astrostu
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CameraMan - I don't have them posted anywhere (at the moment?) because there are so many and they take up so much space. All 75 take up 76 MB (note that the montages take up around 80 MB each, full-res). Is there a particular one or few I should post, maybe half-size??

Post #5, May 23, 2012 18:35:27


Visit my photo / astrophoto site!external link
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Lenses: Canon 35mm f/1.4L, Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L, Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS, Canon 18-55mm f/3.5-4.5, Quantaray 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6, Quantaray 600-1000mm f/9.6-16
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CameraMan
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astrostu wrote in post #14475552external link
CameraMan - I don't have them posted anywhere (at the moment?) because there are so many and they take up so much space. All 75 take up 76 MB (note that the montages take up around 80 MB each, full-res). Is there a particular one or few I should post, maybe half-size??

Definitely the "ring of fire" and maybe a couple before and after maybe midway through each half.

Post #6, May 23, 2012 18:40:56


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― Sheldon Cooper

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astrostu
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I've been working on an "artsy" version that I said wouldn't work (I still don't think it really works ...), but here it is. Would maybe the first, third, fifth, sixth, and between seventh and eighth ones be what you'd like to see?

IMAGE: http://photos.sjrdesign.net/images/eclipse_solar_201205_artsy_003pct_1_v1.0.jpg
2.66% size Solar Eclipse montage, Type 4 Version 1.0

Post #7, May 23, 2012 18:44:22


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Mike ­ Deep
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I made the trip out to Albuquerque for this one. Where did you shoot from?

Post #8, May 23, 2012 19:12:18


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astrostu
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Mike Deep wrote in post #14475701external link
I made the trip out to Albuquerque for this one. Where did you shoot from?

GPS coordinates are in the image (though hard to read at 6% size ...) just outside Elena Gallegos Park, on a residential street just south of it with ZERO of the hundreds of people who were in the park.

Post #9, May 23, 2012 22:20:45


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Celestron
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You did excellent in making the chart with the BG picture . Black is good also but that BG makes it nice ! I was going to go to Albuquerque but didn't make it . I knew there would be lots of people . We drove til we started hitting clear skies jsut outside Lovingtong and had a good show . We planted on the side of the hwy going to Artesia and only 1 car about 200 yrds away were out there so we felt lucky ! Oh BTW i really appreciate the true white in the first 3-1/2 rows . Thats the way it is with a Baadar solar filter .

Post #10, May 24, 2012 08:02:24




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astrostu
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I've now posted a video of this: YouTube Link!external link

Post #11, May 24, 2012 15:57:06


Visit my photo / astrophoto site!external link
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astrostu
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Thanks, Celestron. I used two ND filters stacked (didn't want a single-purpose solar filter) and then color-corrected the first one slightly and used that correction throughout. So the rest are real-color.

And I agree with the background picture. I like it in some ways, and I like the pure black in some ways. I guess that's why I made several. Unfortunately, in the poll of about a dozen (here and elsewhere, total), almost no one agrees on a favorite!

Post #12, May 24, 2012 15:58:49


Visit my photo / astrophoto site!external link
Body: Canon 350D, Canon 7D
Lenses: Canon 35mm f/1.4L, Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L, Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS, Canon 18-55mm f/3.5-4.5, Quantaray 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6, Quantaray 600-1000mm f/9.6-16
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astrostu
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And version 1.1 of Type 4:

IMAGE: http://photos.sjrdesign.net/images/eclipse_solar_201205_artsy_003pct_1_v1.1.jpg

Post #13, May 24, 2012 17:10:55


Visit my photo / astrophoto site!external link
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Celestron
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astrostu wrote in post #14480126external link
I've now posted a video of this: YouTube Link!external link

Fantastic , Great shot ! Did you use a video camcorder tho for the last part of the sun sinking ? It looks so natural !

Post #14, May 24, 2012 17:56:28




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astrostu
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Celestron wrote in post #14480611external link
Fantastic , Great shot ! Did you use a video camcorder tho for the last part of the sun sinking ? It looks so natural !

Thanks. That was video straight off the 7D. I took the last shot in the sequence and then just switched to movie mode and recorded it in HD.

Post #15, May 24, 2012 17:57:58


Visit my photo / astrophoto site!external link
Body: Canon 350D, Canon 7D
Lenses: Canon 35mm f/1.4L, Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L, Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L IS, Canon 18-55mm f/3.5-4.5, Quantaray 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6, Quantaray 600-1000mm f/9.6-16
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Solar Eclipse, May 20, 2012, from Albuquerque, NM
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