Solar eclipse over downtown Rockford

There was a lot of discussion online of the partial solar eclipse that was (maybe) going to appear over the Midwest this evening. Local meteorologists said that it would be visible at sunset approximately between 7:15 and 8:15 tonight. Naturally, I decided at about 6:50 to take a stab at photographing it.

It was uncertain if the skies in Rockford would be clear enough to see the eclipse. A band of clouds was moving into the area. Also, since the eclipse was happening so late in the day, the sun would dip below the horizon before the classic “ring of fire” image would appear.

I went to a shooting location downtown and set up my camera. I was using my Canon 1D Mark II with a 300mm f/2.8. On top of that, I stacked both a 1.4x and 2x teleconverter to achieve a focal length of 840mm.

Istagram photo of my Camera setup to capture the solar eclipse. On the tripod is a 300mm f/2.8 with a 2x and 1.4 teleconverter equaling an 840mm focal length. ©2012 Max Gersh

I knew that with this kind of magnification, I could easily melt my eyeball while looking through the viewfinder. When I peaked through (briefly), I made sure I was wearing my Oakleys as well as a pair of those plastic sunglasses the eye doctor gives you when he dilates  your eyes. This was a heavy enough tint combination so I wasn’t seeing spots for too long.

That's me playing on my phone waiting for the sun to eclipse. ©2012 Erin Kirkpatrick

That’s me playing on my phone waiting for the sun to eclipse. ©2012 Erin Kirkpatrick

I waited for the sun to eclipse as much as possible before dipping below the skyline. I also wanted to use part of the city to serve as a reference point. It happened that the steeple of the St. Mary Oratory in downtown Rockford lined up just about perfectly for my frame.

My final shot was set at ISO 50, 840mm, 1/1300 sec @f/32.

MAX GERSH | ROCKFORD REGISTER STAR The partially eclipsed sun sets behind the steeple of St. Mary Oratory Sunday, May 20, 2012, in downtown Rockford. ©2012

I was satisfied with my first ever eclipse photo attempt.


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