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1 Week! Top 10 Tips for Totality!

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#1 Jerry Lodriguss

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Posted 14 August 2017 - 02:39 PM

Only one week left until the total eclipse of the Sun on August 21, 2017.

 

I don’t know about you, but I am getting excited!

 

Here are my Top 10 Tips for Totality.

 

These are slightly modified from my Observing the Photographing the 2017 Total Solar Eclipse web page.

 

10. If it is your first total solar eclipse, don’t try to take pictures, just observe and experience the ethereal beauty of totality. Seriously. I’m not kidding! If you do plan to take pictures, totally automate your image capture so you don’t have to touch your camera or scope during totality. I had almost 7 minutes of totality in 1991 and I spent that entire time changing exposures and even changing film, and I looked up once briefly. I regret that to this day.

 

9. Plan where you are going to be. You MUST be inside of the path of totality to see the real deal. Outside of it you will only see a partial eclipse. Totality and the corona are the BIG deal. Have a Plan B for an alternate location to run to if it is cloudy or too smoky.

 

8. Give yourself a LOT of extra time to get to your observing location. Don’t think you can drive up at the last minute and pop out of your car and watch the eclipse as the roads may be jammed.

 

7. Be sure you use a safe solar filter during the partial phases for both visual use and photography of the partial phases. Do NOT look at the Sun with your naked eyes, or especially with binoculars or a telescope, if you do not have a safe solar filter during the partial phases. Once totality starts, and only during totality, it is ok, and safe, to look at the Sun with your unaided eye, or through binoculars, or through a telescope. But once the very first speck of photosphere re-emerges at the end of totality, you must put the filter back on.

 

6. If you take pictures, even with a wide-angle lens, put your camera on a tripod. Exposures will be long during totality, and if you try to hand-hold them, they will be blurry. If you plan to take pictures with a telescope or long telephoto lens and your exposures are going to run longer than about 1/15th of a second, you need to have an equatorial mount to compensate for trailing due to the Earth’s rotation.

 

5. Input accurate location and time information into your image acquisition automation software. Use your SmartPhone’s GPS to find your exactly location when you set up your camera and equipment where you will shoot the eclipse. Use NIST time server for accurate time.

 

4. Focus beforehand on infinity and tape it down. Turn off autofocus on camera lenses and focus manually. With a wide-angle lens just focus on something far far away. With a scope with a safe solar filter, focus on a Sunspot if any are visible, or on the edge of the Sun. Focus on the tip of the cusp of the partially eclipsed Sun one last time 5 minutes before totality begins in case the temperature has changed the focus.

 

3. Have an “Emergency” script loaded and ready to go in your image acquisition automation program in case you have clouds and only have a small hole in the clouds to shoot. If you have 15 seconds you should be able to shoot a full HDR sequence if you shoot in two-stop intervals. Start at 4 seconds so you get at least one frame of maximum corona, and go down to 1/1000th of a second for detail in the inner corona.

 

2. Don’t forget to take the filter off for totality! And replace it when totality ends.

 

1. Do NOT try to fix any last minute problems with your mount, camera, computer, software. I can absolutely guarantee that you will NOT get any problems fixed in 2 minutes and you will miss totality. Do not miss visually observing totality!

 

Good Luck to everyone!

 

Jerry

 

Attached File  1_week.jpg   73.1KB   8 downloads


 

#2 k1431545

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Posted 14 August 2017 - 05:20 PM

Thanks so much for the tips Jerry. This is my first eclipse and as excited as I can be. Glad I saw your post, otherwise I would have made the same mistakes and fumbled around with the camera.


 

#3 Jerry Lodriguss

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Posted 14 August 2017 - 05:36 PM

Thanks so much for the tips Jerry. This is my first eclipse and as excited as I can be. Glad I saw your post, otherwise I would have made the same mistakes and fumbled around with the camera.

Glad to help!

 

Jerry


 

#4 PXR-5

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Posted 14 August 2017 - 05:39 PM

Thanks! :)
 

#5 BarrySimon615

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Posted 14 August 2017 - 05:59 PM

9. Plan where you are going to be. You MUST be inside of the path of totality to see the real deal. Outside of it you will only see a partial eclipse. Totality and the corona are the BIG deal. Have a Plan B for an alternate location to run to if it is cloudy or too smoky.

 

​So Jerry, what is your Plan B?  You are welcome to join your friend John M. and I, plus two others at either our Plan A location (near Jefferson City, MO) or Plan B (near Grand Island, NE).  Note if we do Plan B, we will be staying the evening before in Hays, Kansas.  We will head out from New Orleans on Saturday morning for either of these two locations based upon what looks best forecast wise.  Note, you could ride with us from New Orleans.

 

So specifically, if Plan A, we have about a 10 hour drive via I-55 and US 63 via Memphis to West Plains, MO, followed by a 3 hour drive on Sunday to Jefferson City.  If Plan B, we have a 11 hour drive via I-10, I-49 and then up to Tulsa, OK turning off I-20 in Marshall, TX.  ​Then a 5 hour drive on Sunday from Tulsa to Hays.  On eclipse morning we have to punch up 150 miles to the center line, but I do not anticipate the traffic to be anything like what could go on in Oregon, if the weather cooperates.

 

Barry Simon
 


 

#6 Jerry Lodriguss

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Posted 14 August 2017 - 06:29 PM

9. Plan where you are going to be. You MUST be inside of the path of totality to see the real deal. Outside of it you will only see a partial eclipse. Totality and the corona are the BIG deal. Have a Plan B for an alternate location to run to if it is cloudy or too smoky.

 

​So Jerry, what is your Plan B?  You are welcome to join your friend John M. and I, plus two others at either our Plan A location (near Jefferson City, MO) or Plan B (near Grand Island, NE).  Note if we do Plan B, we will be staying the evening before in Hays, Kansas.  We will head out from New Orleans on Saturday morning for either of these two locations based upon what looks best forecast wise.  Note, you could ride with us from New Orleans.

 

So specifically, if Plan A, we have about a 10 hour drive via I-55 and US 63 via Memphis to West Plains, MO, followed by a 3 hour drive on Sunday to Jefferson City.  If Plan B, we have a 11 hour drive via I-10, I-49 and then up to Tulsa, OK turning off I-20 in Marshall, TX.  ​Then a 5 hour drive on Sunday from Tulsa to Hays.  On eclipse morning we have to punch up 150 miles to the center line, but I do not anticipate the traffic to be anything like what could go on in Oregon, if the weather cooperates.

 

Hi Barry,

 

Thank you for your very kind invitation! ... I will contact you off list.

 

Actually, I have a plan B and a vague plan C, but these sound like good plan D and plan E options.  And judging by the weather and forest fire smoke, I will probably need them.

 

But I haven't lived in New Orleans for 30 years, so I will be driving from Philadelphia if plan A, which is to fly to Oregon is smoked out.

 

Jerry.


 

#7 AUricle

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Posted 14 August 2017 - 10:15 PM

Jerry,

I'm really hesitant to ask after all you've helped.........butlol.gif

 

Regarding Canon T3 settings for long exposure / high ISO noise reduction.

Is it even something to consider, being that my max exposure is 1sec (due to longish FL)

and ISO of 1600........

My guess is I can just disable it, or set it at  'standard'.


 

#8 kfiscus

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Posted 14 August 2017 - 11:22 PM

Thank you for the well-thought-out list. 

 

Here is a shorter list of things that I would add:

 

1.  Do your homework.  Know what phenomena happen when.  You can't expect to get all of them in one eclipse- don't try for all of them.  Some eclipse phenomena occur twice.  Be ready.

 

2.  Enlist help.  Have a partner or two that can help you remember what you want to remember.  Your brain will not be itself during those precious minutes and seconds.  I'm asking one thing of my best friend and another single thing from my wife.  I don't want to ruin the eclipse for either of them but I do need their help.

 

3.  Promise yourself that you'll get to the next eclipse.  This may take some pressure off of you during this one, which is fairly short.  2024's eclipse is significantly longer.


 

#9 Jerry Lodriguss

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Posted 14 August 2017 - 11:24 PM

Regarding Canon T3 settings for long exposure / high ISO noise reduction.

Is it even something to consider, being that my max exposure is 1sec (due to longish FL)

and ISO of 1600........

My guess is I can just disable it, or set it at  'standard'.

High ISO noise reduction is not applied to the raw file.

 

You should only be shooting Raw, or, at a minimum, raw + jpeg.

 

Nothing is applied to raw files except Long Exposure Noise Reduction (LENR). and you definitely do NOT want that turned on as it doubles the exposure time for each and every frame.

 

I don't really know what equipment you are shooting with, but ISO 1600 is going to make the image noisy. Note because high ISO is noisy, but because you don't have the appropriate amount of signal for the all-important signal-to-noise ratio. S/N is the single thing that makes good images.

 

With a 16 second exposure at ISO 100, you have 16 seconds of photons that make up signal.

 

At 1 second at ISO 1600 you have only 1 second of photon, therefore your S/N is going to be the square root of 16 worse or 4x worse.

 

Jerry 


 

#10 charotarguy

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Posted 16 August 2017 - 08:27 AM

Dont want to be a party pooper but bring a tarp just in case rain shows up, you might need one to cover the equipment from water. Chances of taking the equipment and running towards your car might not work as in most cases car will be far away. For the lucky few who would be able to park near where they set up please ignore this suggestion.


 

#11 123Michael321

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Posted 16 August 2017 - 10:01 AM

Rule A:

 

A total solar eclipse is a great thing. It's okay for you to be really excited about it.

 

But if your primary feelings are stress, worry, frustration, etc., you're simply approaching the event from the wrong perspective.

 

If warnings of heavy traffic are stressing you out, make plans to hit the roads way, way earlier than you otherwise would. Then stop stressing out over possible heavy traffic.

 

If warnings of possible cloudiness are stressing you out, remind yourself that weather happens. There's nothing you can do about cloudy weather (aside from going elsewhere, maybe, if that's practical for you). Since you can't do anything about it, simply hope for the best. Don't stress out over it. Your stress will not make things any better.

 

Rule B:

 

If you insist on photographing the eclipse, make sure you know your photographic equipment so well you could operate it with your eyes closed. That you know the specific photographic procedure you intend to follow so well you could follow it effortlessly if you were half-asleep and drunk. In short, practice everything so many times that it will require virtually no conscious thought on your part, come Eclipse Day. It should be more reflex, than anything else.

 

Me? I enjoy photography. And false modesty aside, I'm a skilled photographer. But I'm not going to be taking pictures of the eclipse. I'm going to be enjoying the eclipse and experiencing the eclipse, because this may well be the only opportunity I'll ever have to be in the path of totality of a solar eclipse.

 

A day after the eclipse, I'll have tens of thousands of online photos of the eclipse from which to choose. But the window of opportunity for me to enjoy an actual total solar eclipse will have closed - for years, if not forever. Priorities, man. Priorities!

 

Rule C:

 

No matter how much you are looking forward to the eclipse, accept that for the vast majority of people it's an event of decidedly minor significance. That's right - most of your friends and family probably don't really care very much about eclipses.

 

If you have to travel for many hours, risking various sorts of unpleasantness to get to the path of totality, leave at home the people who don't really care about the eclipse. Otherwise, they will wind up resenting you for forcing them to put up with such bother for a thing which doesn't matter to them. Or maybe their complaining will just get on your nerves. Either way, do them a favor, and yourself a favor, and leave them at home. Even if you love them. Maybe especially if you love them. It's okay for people who love each other to have different interests. It's okay for people who love each other not to do everything together.

 

Rule D:

 

If you're observing the eclipse amid a crowd of people, and you have an instrument (camera, telescope, binoculars, etc.) set up on a tripod, someone WILL bump into your tripod. Maybe knocking it down, but at the very least moving it. In fact, it'll probably happen multiple times during the eclipse. You cannot prevent it from happening. Accept this and move on with your life.

 

Rule E:

 

Bring plenty of water. Staying hydrated is usually a good idea.

 

Rule F:

 

Leaving after totality, but before the end of the eclipse, might just get you on the road ahead of the worst of the traffic jam. And who really cares about the final 20 minutes of an eclipse?


 

#12 Autoboof

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Posted 17 August 2017 - 09:32 AM

 

Rule C:

 

No matter how much you are looking forward to the eclipse, accept that for the vast majority of people it's an event of decidedly minor significance. That's right - most of your friends and family probably don't really care very much about eclipses.

 

If you have to travel for many hours, risking various sorts of unpleasantness to get to the path of totality, leave at home the people who don't really care about the eclipse. Otherwise, they will wind up resenting you for forcing them to put up with such bother for a thing which doesn't matter to them. Or maybe their complaining will just get on your nerves. Either way, do them a favor, and yourself a favor, and leave them at home. Even if you love them. Maybe especially if you love them. It's okay for people who love each other to have different interests. It's okay for people who love each other not to do everything together.

 

 

It doesn't make sense to me.  So your saying if someone is not really into eclipses, even if they experience totality, they won't thank you for bringing them?  In my head, I would think they would think the experience is so cool they would be really happy you brought them..Maybe that's not reality though


 

#13 123Michael321

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Posted 17 August 2017 - 10:54 AM

It doesn't make sense to me.  So your saying if someone is not really into eclipses, even if they experience totality, they won't thank you for bringing them?  In my head, I would think they would think the experience is so cool they would be really happy you brought them..Maybe that's not reality though

 

I'm saying that many people don't particularly care that there's going to be an eclipse. That an eclipse just doesn't matter all that much to many of the people you may know.

 

And if someone you know is such a person, you probably shouldn't try getting him to go to the path of totality with you. Because there's a good chance that getting there (and back) will involve various sorts of minor annoyance - traffic, crowding, standing around being bored, uncomfortable temperature or humidity, lack of bathroom facilities, etc. - and someone who doesn't really care about seeing an eclipse may not thank you for making him put up with all that.

 

And yes, even experiencing totality will often leave such people unmoved. Or at least, not sufficiently moved so as to cause the person to suddenly decide that it was worth the time and trouble. I absolutely guarantee you that there are lots of people who can experience an eclipse only to say, "Is that all it is?"

 

So if you know some mentally competent adult, who has no special desire to experience totality, probably the best decision you can make would be to accept that not everybody shares your passion for the eclipse. Respect that this event which has great meaning for you, means little to him. And let him do whatever it is he cares to do on Monday (work, play video games, babysit, whatever), while you go and do what you want to do on Monday (see the eclipse).

 

I speak from experience. Not with regard to a total solar eclipse, no. In the case in question, it was seeing the Grand Canyon for the first time. Still, the principle's the same - some people find a given experience to be powerfully moving and other people (often, perfectly nice, decent people) don't.

 

And that's okay.


 

#14 ftwskies

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Posted 17 August 2017 - 03:32 PM

9. Plan where you are going to be. You MUST be inside of the path of totality to see the real deal. Outside of it you will only see a partial eclipse. Totality and the corona are the BIG deal. Have a Plan B for an alternate location to run to if it is cloudy or too smoky.

 

8. Give yourself a LOT of extra time to get to your observing location. Don’t think you can drive up at the last minute and pop out of your car and watch the eclipse as the roads may be jammed.

 

This is what has me confused and stressed.  I keep reading this seemingly contradictory advice from folks on this forum.  Everyone says that traffic is going to be gridlock, so leave early, but have a plan to dash somewhere else if clouds roll in.  How the heck am I supposed to get from Plan A to Plan B quickly if traffic is gridlock all along the PoT?  I'm concerned that by the time I know for sure whether weather clouds will be a problem, it will be too late to go elsewhere.


Edited by ftwskies, 17 August 2017 - 03:33 PM.

 

#15 Defenderslideguitar

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Posted 19 August 2017 - 09:53 AM

Dear Jerry  Barry  et al,

 

Thanks for all your sage advice................

 

I am so excited  I'm waking up thinking about it

 

 

As  a totality newbee     I have decided to take the advice of other more experienced  folks  I'll   focus   (pun intended)

 

on visual  rather than try an shoots a bunch of pics when I


 

#16 Defenderslideguitar

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Posted 19 August 2017 - 10:00 AM

continued..........I don't want to miss this fiddling with the camera

 

I won't   lose my mind  worried about weather    traffic  I cant control.

 

 I will be totally self sufficient   I'm actually happy to be going alone as  I need to be flexible  and I don't have to worry about inconveniencing others ...  i am good at sacrificing and inconveniencing myself for my own hobbies and interests..

 

These forums have been great    informative   educational  and humorous   please  keep them going in the post eclipse phases of the next few months   what worked  what didn't   what to try differently next time  etc..

 

I'll be looking into a camera set up for  astro and eclipse photos after this is all behind us

 

Time to get moving

 

Thanks

 

be safe    be self sufficient

Barry


 

#17 astrobhate

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Posted 24 August 2017 - 07:34 PM

To all the people who shared these and many other tips, do's and dont's, etc on the forum: 

 

Thank you from the bottom of my heart. This was my first real solar eclipse (missed out on the real deal in 1999 due to clouds) and without your wisdom and advice I would not have been able to enjoy it visually and capture it the way I was able to. Every now and then for the last 72 hours leading up to the eclipse, I would come across the exact same problem / situation that was discussed on this forum and was either already well prepared for it or was able to counter it as if I had done this before. 

 

In the end, my lack of experience still showed and I paid the price for it (missed removing my filters at the right time to get the first diamond ring), yet I am very happy for what I did. 

 

Special thanks to Jerry, Barry, 123Michael321 and many others who also replied to a lot of posts - I learnt a lot from you guys and the collective wisdom of this group.

 

Thank you, clear skies!

Shailesh.  


 


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