Our Solar Eclipse Adventure and photography lessons learned

***Pictures at end so you have to read my post to get to the awesomeness.

If you saw my post on august you would of seen my post on extensive prepping for the eclipse to cover the experience as best as I could with research and testing.

My dad invited us up to see the eclipse with them at a local B&B in Hiawassee Ga. We left early in the morning at 5am expecting there to be heavy traffic. That was not the case at that time. So we got there by 7:30am. We found a patch out back from every one where we would not disturb the other guests and set up our tripods. To figuring out where the sun would be by a star app I had that let us fast forward time ranges. That was a life saver in planning where we were going to be.  So we setup and were ready to go. I had My Canon 60D with a 60 year old Vivitar 200mm f5.6 pentax lens with a 3d printed solar filter holder and LCD screen hood.

The whole thing kind of felt like before I shoot a wedding anticipation of getting the shot you want also excitement of experiencing something not to many get to see.  I have done Lunar eclipses before but this is so much different.

First and foremost was the worry about the kids possibly starring at the sun. However my dad set up his telescope and reflecting plate up for them Truly out of all the ways that you could watch it that was the best and most detailed for the partial phases.


What was the neat thing I think is the over all light.  It was interesting it felt like golden hour as it got darker with warm light however the shadows got sharper instead of more defused. Of course thats because the light source got smaller. I then started searching for the crescents that were created from the pin holes in light from the trees. Theses were fun to play with on the ground and on people. 🙂


As it got closer to totality the air got cooler and cooler. it started about 90. I would say by the time of totality it was near 70.  About 30 min before totality the crickets started chirping like it was night time. It was very interesting.

Then the moment of totality it quickly goes from sunlight to dark in only a few seconds. Then you are over whelmed by the sight. You can hear people cheering around you, yelling, honking horns, fire works. Every one at one single moment across the area is in aw and amazement of what is happening. It is not a single persons experience its every one all around you experiencing the same amazement at the same time. Its magical.  

Photographing the eclipse is a challenging feat to accomplish especially when you change from regular to totality.

I would suggest the following:  

  • The Key is to practice and research.  Learn the exposures.
  • Setup and test early 
  • Put tape over the eye piece so you don’t accidentally look.
  • Use solar filter with live view
  • During totality take out of live view and shoot without filter. Then after put back on the filter and switch back to live view. 
  • Slow down and think during change in phases.
  • Bracket exposures for totality. Target Totality Corona 0.2 with 1 ev brackets I did 7. This failed on me will say why below.  http://www.mreclipse.com/SEphoto/image/SE-Exposure1w.GIF
  • This is the main lesson I learned. *** Change over to totality settings 2+ min before totality to allow for error.
  • Also NEVER no mater how much you trust it look through the view finder with the solar filter on.  I used live view. 

What happened with me is everything was going fine until I went to make sure i was lined up, had switched to my custom setting then switched on bracketing. I did this right at the totality shift hence the 2 min warning part. I have practiced this many times. What i did not take into account was that my m42 to EOS adapter the lens would start unscrewing right when I was adjusting.  Then the tripod shifted skyward. I scrambled to get it pointing at the sun again then realized the filter was still on. My dad calmed me down, talked me through it and I was able to get it back on aim. However at this point I had bracketing on, but instead of custom is was in bulb mode. So when I started to press my shutter release it did not sound right.  I saw the pictures were blown out and I was at 400iso and so I put at 100iso and kept firing while watching the eclipse with my eyes instead of through the camera. Now ay you can explain it pictures can not capture it fully. I just kept clicking.  I did miss about 10-20 seconds of the beginning with my own eyes which I will never get back. However even since I had my settings messed up me constantly clicking the shutter release caused the pictures to turn out very nicely.. Yes I could not do the HDR I wanted to but I think they are lovely.  I watched the rest of the totality.

After totality I went to take a quick look and when I did I jumped up and down yelling I got it because I got the shot I wanted all along. 

Equipment used and 3d printed parts.

First lets talk about the 3d Printed parts.  You can buy or make some of theses also.

  1. Solar filter holder for diffrent sizes. https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:2376354
  2. Solar finder. Use this instead of looking at the sun even with glasses. I tried this is safer and better.  🙂 Not wear sunglasses when looking at the range finder. The reflection is bright.  https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:2469804
  3. Solar hood for my LCD screen. I will need to find this file. 

Now Lets look at the photography equipment used.

  1. Canon 60D:
  2. Pentax M42 – EOS Adapter https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1009420-REG/fotodiox_m42_eos_fl_dc_p_adapter_for_m42_lens.html
  3. Old tripod from the 60s
  4. 40+ year old Vivitar 300mm f5.6 lense pentax m42
  5. Cactus V6 MKII radio trigger https://www.cactus-image.com/v6ii.html with cable release cable. 

Don’t forget to have fun.

Bottom line I highly recommend if you ever have a chance go to the zone of totality in a solar eclipse. Next one is in 2024 so get prepping. Next one after that is 2048.  Totality is one of the most amazing things I have ever seen. Don’t focus on the photography that is secondary. focus on spending it with Family, friends, and new friends you meet there, and family.  You all are going to experience one of the amazing sights ever seen on the earth.  


My new Monoprice Maker Select V2 3D printer.

I have always wanted a 3d printer. However until I got back into rc I really did not have a need for one. What I have found is now day most hobby shops are now shut down in place with online retailers. It is really sad because  I use to work at one and it went out of business also.  Because of this when I need to order even small parts like control horns for example I have to make 50-100$ orders to justify the 18$+ shipping from china and not know if it will ever make it to my door step.

It has also been an amazing printer out of the box. I looked into saving some $ and buying a kit printer for around 180-200$ However this printer was mostly assembled for regular 299. I got it for 269 on amazon prime day. I do not regret it at all.

I have also printed filter holders for my cameras for the up coming solar eclipse.  I could not find any filters that were still in stock for my camera so I was able to get some sheet film.