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The 2024 Solar Eclipse


Like many across parts of the United States, I have been watching the weather intently for the last week. Rain, clouds..., perhaps a break? Here in Indianapolis, Indiana, it seems we got lucky. For years, I was betting against the weather being clear. Not that I was rooting for clouds, but this is Indiana, and it is April. I am happy to be wrong.

This pessimism, as much as anything else, is probably what kept me from being prepared. I wanted a photo. I have no idea what I am doing. I know I am not planning to risk my normal equipment. Too risky. So, at lunch, I am going through lenses and cameras and figuring out what I can use. I know I want a tripod, a fairly long lens, and a camera body that I have a cable release for. What I came up with was a Nikon 7Z and a Nikkor 500mm PF. Now, I need a location. Turns out, the front sidewalk works great.

Some quick conversations online and a "cheat-sheet" later, I have come up with some half-assed camera settings that I hope will work. I settled on: manual exposure, ISO 400, 1/160s (not sure what happened there, I thought it was set for 1/100s), and f/5.6. I also set the camera up to auto bracket at +/- 2 stops. This turned out to be my best move.

So, "the" time is rolling around, and I am sitting out on my sidewalk and staring up - with my solar shades on. Totality is nearing, and this is my moment to go. I do not have a solar filter for the camera. So, I have to wait for totality. I cannot see anything of what is going on around me. The solar shades are a bit disorienting. The sun is at a sliver, and I move to get the camera ready. I get it positioned, but it will not focus. The ballhead is not tight and the whole camera moves out of position. In short, I am a wreck. I am looking at the camera and fidgeting when a loud cheer goes up. I snap a look up (luckily I had removed my solar shades) just in time to see the diamond flash. It was the most amazing thing I have ever seen. Back to the camera! I get it focused, but it is fidgeting around. I start snapping photos, but my faith is low that the focus is right. I get nervous and panic. For some reason, I cannot get the camera to shoot continuously with the remote locked down. This is what I get for shooting an unfamiliar camera.

I abandon the Nikon and grab my normal gear. This is a Canon R5 with a 600mm lens. It is not set up for this at all. So much for not risking my normal gear. I snap some shots and then roll the camera back to -3 compensation. This is as low as Canon will go. I fire away. The sun starts to pop out, and I put the camera down and bat the Nikon out of the way. It is over.

Somewhere in there, I did take a moment to grab a cell phone shot. The whole thing is amazing and eerie. Daylight dark. While shooting, someone yelled that there was an owl in the tree, and I did not even flinch to look. I was transfixed with shooting and soaking it all in. The three minutes flew by. In my 5 decades on this planet, I have never seen anything like it, and I hope this is not the last time. It is 20-some years before the next total eclipse in the US. I am going to have to travel to see another. It will be worth it.

So, how did I do? Well, the Nikon shots were the best, in the end. I did not need to panic. In particular, the -2 stop looked great. So, these are mostly shot with the settings above but at -2 stops compensation.

The Canon did okay, but it is overexposed. Here are a couple from my panicked attempt to "save" my experience.

All in all, a phenomenal experience. One that I hope to repeat again some day. Sydney, Australia in 2028 looks nice.

Thanks for reading,






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