My interest in photographing the total solar eclipse began to soar as the event approached. Concerns over traffic coming out of and returning back to Chicago heightened in the last few days. Fortunately, my pre-event plans worked out perfectly and I was in my selected spot an hour and half before totality just as I had hoped. This allowed me to take photographs through the stages of the eclipse.
My chosen spot was in Missouri about 1 1/2 miles across the Mississippi from Chester, IL. I had done hours of research using Google Earth to locate a safe spot close to the path of the umbra center. It was right along a main highway and (behind, I had hoped) a farm storage building with a gravel apron surrounding. When I arrived, I found that the owner had roped off access but far enough in so that I could park along the highway safely.
The skies were clear on arrival but as time approached for the eclipse, some large cumulus clouds started to show themselves and I began to realize the importance of being portable since even a mile might affect my unclouded view of totality. Fortunately, the clouds stayed away from my view of the sun and just what I had hoped to see unfolded before my eyes.
I outfitted my 100-400 mm lens with my solar filter and took several images of the partial eclipse at about ten-minute intervals. Trying to locate the sun in my telephoto lens took some practice because the sky is completely black (under the filter) and there is no tell-tale sign of the sun. You have to aim the lens at the sun directly or you’re not going to find it. As you can see, my practice paid off. Watching the time closely, the moment of totality arrived as the shadow rushed toward us and the day turned to night. Flipping off the protective filter, I took photos now in the safety of totality. Seeing this for the first time and unable to practice shooting totality, I had hoped that my revised camera settings were going to be as near perfect as I needed them to be. Seeing red prominences around the sun in my captures confirmed that I didn’t do too bad. Being so near the umbra center and located as I was along the path gave me about 2 minutes and 40 seconds of totality, time enough to photograph and also time enough to enjoy the view with my own eyes.
I hope you enjoy the results.
~ Rick ~