Saturday, April 8, 2017

Eclipse Preparations

    I was supposed to be in Nebraska photographing sharp-tailed grouse and prairie chickens at this time but my plans have taken a sharp turn.   A month ago I injured my right knee.  Not sure how, but it started hurting March 3.  I though sure it would get better, but it did not.  Last week, right before I was to leave for Nebraska, I went to the doctor and discovered that I have 2 subtle tears in the right knee meniscus, and a sprained ligament.  The doctor says that the pain is most likely because of a sprain of the MCL (a ligament), though the torn meniscus is doing its part.

     Fortunately I am already better, and can move around fairly easily again.  So, I have been using my chicken photography time to prepare for the August 21, total solar eclipse (see my February 19 post at  I have big plans for photographing the eclipse.  One of the problems is the sun will be at an approximately 67º above the horizon.  Most tripod heads will not permit a lens to reach that angle.  For my main camera and lens (a 500mm with 2x teleconverter) I will be using an equatorial mount as a shooting platform.  The equatorial mount will allow the lens to point in any direction.

     The photos shown here is the lens set in a wooden cradle.  I will use a vibration dampener (not completed at this date) between the camera body and base of the cradle for stability to reduce the play between the lens / teleconvert / camera connection.

     The equatorial mount also has a right ascension (RA), and  a declination drives with fine tuning adjustments.  The drive controls should help me keep the sun centered in the lens without having to touch the lens.  A right angle finder is going to be a must have, for photographing this eclipse.  I will be very difficult to see through the viewfinder without one for this eclipse.

     I took the images below today.  They illustrate the size of the sun disk on a full size sensor.  The white box around the image indicates the edge of the full frame (FX) image.  Each image is the complete sensor area.  No cropping was used to make the Sun's image look larger.  The larger solar disks was achieved by using teleconverters, a 1.4X for the second photo below and 2X for the third.

     One thing I discovered today is that I need a lot of practice to insure that all will go well during the total phase of the eclipse.  All details will have to be worked out in advance, for totality last only 2 minutes and 40 seconds where I plan to be.  That's not much time for all the images I hope to take.  Take a look at my February 19, 2017 post, I have a lot of good links there, and 2 photos I took during  1979 total solar eclipse near Winnipeg, Manitoba.

If you have not started preparing for the August 21 eclipse, START NOW!  August 21 will be here before you know it.


  1. Hi Ana, Thanks for reading my post. Hope all is well with you and you're taking lots of great photos.