The Annular Eclipse of 2012

Last weekend I stood at the edge of the campground at Fort Churchill State Park in western Nevada, with several cameras on tripods aimed toward the late afternoon sun. As a complete novice in solar photography, everything I was doing was an experiment. Even if the experiments failed, though, the eclipse was exciting to watch (safely, through my Eclipse Viewer) and I hardly even noticed the mosquitoes feasting on my legs.

This first experiment came out pretty well.  It’s a composite of 31 separate exposures, each 1 minute apart, beginning about 6:10 pm, continuing through maximum annularity about 6:30, and ending as clouds fully obscured the sun about 6:40. This series was made on Kodak Ektar 100 film in my old Nikkormat FTN, with 2 polarizing filters rotated to near-maximum opacity on a 105 mm lens. The negatives were scanned into Photoshop, where they were cleaned up a bit, stacked, and aligned.

Tim Messick Photography • Graphics
Copyright © 2012 Tim Messick. All rights reserved.


About Tim Messick

Photographer, cartographer, and botanist/naturalist. Home is in Davis, California. Home-away-from-home is the eastern Sierra Nevada. Compiling a flora of the Bodie Hills.
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4 Responses to The Annular Eclipse of 2012

  1. Alan Barnard says:

    Nice work, Tim!

  2. Greg says:

    Wow, Tim, this ranks among the finest solar eclipse sequences I’ve seen. And to think that you managed to get the exposure right using a pair of hand-adjusted filters (clever) and on film, just makes the achievement all the more impressive. Nice! (How does the alignment work out, though? If the sun subtends an angle of 0.5 degrees, and the motion of the Earth is 0.25 degrees/minute, then it seem like the sun would move only half of its diameter each minute? Maybe I’m not understanding something…)

  3. Tim Messick says:

    Alan and Greg, thanks for the comments! Greg, the exposure was total guesswork, but using film, with its wider exposure latitude than digital, helps. Your observation about the spacing of the sun images is exactly right, it was moving less than a full diameter per minute. In this sequence, each sun was on a separate frame of 35mm film. The frames were all scanned as a group, then each was clipped and moved onto a separate layer. When the frames in all layers were aligned, the suns were overlapping, but also a bit scattered, because this was not the sturdiest of my tripods and the ground was a bit soft. So, I invoked the principle of Artistic License and just moved the suns into position along a slightly curved guide line, similar to the path of the sun. As my mother points out frequently, “you can’t trust anything you see nowadays”, thanks to Photoshop.

  4. Rick York says:

    Very cool, Tim. Photoshop is wonderful and your images show what can be done if you have the proper skills and talent. Thanks for sharing. Rick

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