Monday, 6 April 2015

Kim Ayres - Photographing the Solar Eclipse

The Solar eclipse a couple of weeks ago had many a photographer - amateur and professional - out with their cameras in the hope of capturing something of this rare event - including myself. Although it wasn't going to be a total eclipse in this corner of Scotland, there was going to be something in the region of 90%.

Pointing your camera directly at the sun can be pretty dodgy (and under no circumstances should you ever look through the viewfinder at the sun), so an ND filter, which reduces the amount of light entering the lens, is generally called for. Fellow Galloway Photographic Collective member, Allan Wright, kindly supplied me with a couple.

When I woke up the sun was streaming through the curtains and I was hopeful all the dire predictions of heavy cloud cover were wrong, but an hour later, thick cloud did in fact cover the skies.

I decided to head out into the garden with my camera on a tripod anyway, just in case, with the ND filters attached to the lens. And as I looked up, suddenly I saw it through a patch of thinning cloud.

I took a quick photo, but it was way too dark. With all the cloud cover, there now wasn't enough light hitting the sensor. I had to massively increase the ISO and open the aperture as wide as possible, and although I got an image, it wasn't inspiring. I removed the ND filters and tried again, but although I got a better quality photo, it was still uninteresting.

I realised I needed the eclipse to be next to something - to give it some kind of context, so I moved the camera and tripod back towards the house until the chimneys were in the picture. I took a bit more time to play with the settings and as the clouds moved across the scene - sometimes blocking it completely, but sometimes allowing it to show through - I felt I was on to something.

But then I noticed a couple of crows periodically flying onto the chimneys and spent the next 10 minutes trying to get a shot with the right combination of elements, while they mostly moved behind the stacks and flew off moments before I took the shot.

However, in among the many photos I took that morning, there werea couple I was really pleased with.

Which is just as well, because apparently I'll be 124 years old before I'll get another chance to try again in Scotland...

Kim Ayres

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