Solar eclipse... almost!

Canada was not graced with a total solar eclipse on Monday August 21, 2017, but we got the next best thing: a partial eclipse and no clouds in the skies; I shot over 1500 pictures and I finally have something to show for it.

Below is a Photoshop image with, as backdrop, a real nightshot I took January 2016 somewhere East of Toronto, Canada. It was a long exposure with some light painting on the cemetery headstones. Of course the solar eclipse happened in bright daylight an the image below could never be for real. However... all of the sun images are real as I saw them on August 21.

The funny thing here is that I did not believe my own original materials. I looked at the numbers of the different captures, and I could not wrap my head around it. Why? My camera was taking my multiple shots with an intervallometer. It was on a tripod doing its thing for 3 hours and I did not have to stay present all the time. So I really never realised that the moon did not travel entirely past the sun. I think what happened is that the sun moved faster to the west than the moon dit. So we never got that bite out of the right part of the sun. The picture below is of course not astronomically right, but just for the fun of it I moved the images to follow the curb of the background image. A person can dream, right?

Taking the fun a step further I found in my archives an image I shot of the moon with the exact same lens configuration and camera that I used on Eclipse day. I managed to fit the moon in perfectly with no resizing needed and if you look at the pictures below you can see what the trajectory of the moon must have been. The third picture combines both so that you can perfectly see what was going on here in Canada, during the partial solar eclipse.


For those who are interested, here is the hardware I used.

All moonshots were taken with a Canon 5D MK2, a 70-200mm vII F/2.8 lens with a 2x extender so the effective focal length was close to 400mm. Not fully, because the Canon has a full-frame sensor so that takes some of the close-up property away. The camera was on a solid tripod. I had to adjust the angle multiple times during the 3 hours the above series took, since I do not have an automatic device to follow the skies (something to save money for!). On the lens was the normal transparant UV filter that all my lenses carry. On top of that, I attached a #10 Welder's filter (for lack of a real solar filter - saving money for that!). This filter was about half a centimeter thick and added a lot of blue to the images, so white balance has been post-processed to reflect how it really looked.

I also had my FUJI-X-t2 with a double #10 Big Stopper but since this camera only has a 135mm lens, I could not get as close in as with the Canon. I was also fearful that the intense sunlight might hurt the sensor of this mirrorless camera. It is much closer to the lens... I did snatch some shots when we had reached maximum eclipse at 78%. Less light coming from the sun, temperatures outside dropped a bit and less solar glare. The images were sharper than the ones I took with the Canon for the simple reason that there was less glass between the sun and the camera. I am still glad that I chose to work with the Canon!


I had a thrilling work vacation in Arizona in July of this yearwhere a giant sandstorm crossed my path! It was awesome! I only now read up on this phenomenon, typical for the early monsoon season in this area of the world. Oops. This could have been a serious incident. But I was lucky. I left the highway when I saw it building to the west in Maricopa County. First I thought it was a thunderstorm near the mountainridge. But as I drove my car nose first towards it I started to realise I was looking at "dust bunnies". And after I had stopped to make some pictures, the dimension of this thing hit home with me and I wondered what to do.

I stopped my car in a safe place, totally alone, and I stood there for awhile listening to the singing of coyotes (or wolves?) all around me. It was a thing of beauty! Then I tried to figure out where this sand-monster was going. It turned out I was on a parallel course and even though I could almost touch it, it stayed at a safe distance. The light, on this late afternoon, was absolutely stunning. Below is one of the shots of my closest encounter with the storm.

When I returned to the Highway, the tail of this thing hit me and the winds were dangerously high. There was debris crossing the road everywhere but luckily the worst had passed.


Also find my pictures on ViewBug - a great site that allows photographers of all levels to enter their captures into contests. If you like, you can even vote for my photographs! You might have to become a (free) member to see it all, but there is a wealth of inspiring pictures to discover.