I have had the great pleasure of presentating the topic of solar eclipse photography to different groups. These presentations ranged from introductory to advanced in terms of the audience. Despite the differences in technical knowledge, the messages were the same. No flash, use a tripod, use a remote, use automation, enjoy the eclipse, and above all, no flash! One thing that I learned is that to get the message across the best one should use humor. The following cartoons are from my previous presentations and despite being crudely drawn, work for the purposes intended.
Click the image for a higher resolution display. You can use these images in your own presentations with the following acknowledgement: Image
(c)Bill Kramer, www.eclipse-chasers.com. For commercial requests (publications) please contact me.
Did you just buy a new camera and NOT read the instructions? Did you NOT practice with the camera? If you answered YES then set the camera aside and enjoy the eclipse. Under no circumstances should you waste time trying to figure out the camera as the eclipse is taking place.
Using a flash to take pictures of others taking pictures of the eclipse is very uncool. Doing so does not produce an epic memory picture of the eclipse. It can also cause those with dark adapted eyes to loose the dark adaption for the remainder of totality, something they might not forgive.
It is far better to catch silloettes with the eclipse and sky in the background. Turn your flash off or cover it with a small piece of tape.
Being out in the sun all day can be hot. You might have a refreshing drink to cool off but that does not work for your equipment. What does work is shade. Using an umbrella to shade the camera (and optics) works well. If you set up a tracking mount this may be your only alternative, so plan for it. More mobile set ups can get away with keeping the equipment in a shaded area until ready to take an image.
On a related note, sun screen is highly recommended for any one not used to spending long periods in the sun. I have seen many a post eclipse sun burn!
Make sure your batteries are fully charged before the eclipse. Better yet, if you can, bring along a back up set and keep that fully charged as well. Check your batteries about an hour or two before the eclipse is due to start.
I normally charge my main and back up battery the night before the eclipse. I use one for images before the eclipse and a fresh one during the eclipse. Most camera batteries will run for several hours on a full charge. For an eclipse, you cannot be too over cautious though.
Totality is not the time to be fixing equipment. If something goes wrong (there are many that will tell you Murphy was an eclipse chaser), just set it aside and enjoy the show. Eclipses will not wait while you repair a loose mount or adjust something in the set up.
Having too much equipment to manage can be a problem. You might miss seeing the eclipse directly. Automation is a great tool when all is working right. Yet that is seldom the case unless well rehearsed, and it is difficult to properly rehearse for a total solar eclipse - especially if it is one of your first.
If you insist on bringing a plethora of equipment, plan some 'free time' to just look. You will find that to be the most memorable aspect of the eclipse event.
This actually happened to a friend of mine at his first eclipse. He had brought along a small telescope and camera attachment. As 2nd contact hit he forgot to remove the solar filter and didn't realize his error until a few minutes after 3rd contact.
Using automation, audible warnings can be used to remind you to remove the filter. You migth think this is a silly thing however I can tell you in all honesty that a solar eclipse is an intense thing and that your normal operations will be disrupted no matter how much you prepare and practive.
This is the best tip I can provide. Get a good night sleep before the eclipse day. You will need the energy and alertness. Now then, getting a good night sleep before eclipse day is easier said than done. Eclipse day is exciting, even more so when you know what to expect. To assist, make a check list and follow it. Make sure your batteries are charged up and that everything is ready before you go to bed. You will sleep a lot better and awaken feeling ready for the big event.
A further note is that many eclipse chasers like to watch the sunrise on eclipse day. Plan to turn in early the night before. Again, easier said than actually accomplished.
All eclipse cartoons were created by Bill Kramer using an iPad and the ArtRage drawing program.