As a project manager, I’ve probably made the following statement at least a thousand times, “I just want to be sure we are all on the same page.” Well today a natural event put almost everyone in the country “on the same page”. The August 21, 2017 solar eclipse is a memory burned (pardon the pun) into our psyche.
So much anticipation and we were not disappointed! The eclipse was experienced in as many different ways as there are individuals. I have enjoyed looking at the images shared on social media as well in the news.
Seeing photos with thousands of people together staring up at the sun (with eclipse glasses on) with the look of joy and amazement on their face as they view a rare natural phenomena warmed my heart.
As it turns out, I did not decide where I would view the eclipse until the last minute. I was late to the game preparing. I purchased one of the last inexpensive eclipse kits that included four pairs of paper eclipse glasses, one pair of plastic eclipse glasses, a photo filter, a poster and a booklet for $50.
The day before the eclipse I read a few articles about photographing the eclipse. Most of the advice was obvious – use a tripod and remote shutter release, use a solar filter or you will burn out your sensor, NEVER LOOK in the view finder, use live view, bracket your shots and use a minimum of a 300 mm lens. The take away that helped me the most, besides bracketing my shots, was this advice, “Feel free to underexpose your photos when shooting the sun.”
I bracketed my shots by underexposing at one stop, two stops and then three stops and at one point even four stops. In the end I settled for -3.7. Here are three examples with 0, -2 and -3 exposure compensation.
Progressively, the most underexposed images have better contrast and color. Ironically, though, my favorite image titled “Not the Moon” (seen below) is underexposed by only two stops rather than three or four. I like this image because the sun is brighter and closer to the sun's real color which happens to be all colors mixed together and appears to our eyes as white. Under exposure is usually something to avoid because during the post processing phase colors cannot be recovered but in this case I think it is more realistic.