Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Annular Eclipse

On Sunday, May 20th, an annular eclipse passed over northern California. Like many other photographers I was out there shooting the eclipse.

But while others may have been happy with capturing a single image taken at the point of maximum eclipse, I wanted to try something a bit different.

So I drove to a flooded rice field in the middle of the Sacramento Valley well before the eclipse began and set up a couple of tripods and cameras in order to capture the entire eclipse in a series of time lapse images.

Solar Eclipse time lapse image
I took about 30 images - one every 5 minutes - over a two and a half hour period. The alarm on my cellphone came in very handy for this, since the default snooze is 5 minutes long.

The eclipse was a fascinating event. You really don't start to notice anything until the sun is about half covered. By that point, you get the feeling that it must be getting close to sunset because the light feels a bit dim. But it never got anything like dark. Even at the maximum point in the eclipse, when 94% of the sun was covered by the moon, it was still clearly daylight, although a bit dim. Six percent of the sun's light is still a lot of light. It did get noticeably cooler as the eclipse progressed, and it got warmer again as the sun reemerged.

Solar eclipse time lapse - May 20, 2012
In the end, the images came out great, though processing 30 images into a single image in Photoshop takes a while.

Same a first image, but with a normal exposure added at the end of the eclipse.
Of course, I couldn't resist that shot of the sun at the maximum point of the eclipse. :-)

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