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for those who used equipment, what mistakes did you make?

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#1 joelin

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Posted 22 August 2017 - 02:38 PM

I had a bunch of setups and somehow things didn't all work properly.

 

1) ecipse maestro + ioptron skytracker + canon 6d w/180mm f/2.8 lens

 

I used a compass to polar align, but somehow the sun would drift off the field of view after about 30 minutes...that was a bit annoying for trying to shoot over 2.5 hours 

 

2) Mak C90 + DIY cardboard filter cell + dwarfstar mount + sony a7s at prime focus + 9x50 right angle finder (with filters)

 

It was quite difficult to find the sun in the 9x50 (and pretty much impossible in the C90). I had to swing it around randomly and get lucky. I had to move the mount every few minutes or else it would drift off the field of view 

 

When I removed the cardboard filter cell from the C90, the Dwarfstar's balance changed while I wasn't watching and within a few seconds C90 was pointing nearly overhead. I tried to find the eclipsed sun and could not.

 

Finally the C90 had some weird halo like reflections in my A7S photos when the filter was off.

 

3) iPhone video camera. I tried to record video and it gobbled up my 2GB of remaining storage in just 10 minutes (I started maybe 15 minutes before totality). I deleted the file and tried to record more but I forgot to empty the trash folder on iPhone so I missed a video of totality.

 

I expected 2GB of storage to be sufficient for at least 20 minutes of video. It was not.

 

4) Point and shoot camera for backup. 

For some reason the battery was dead during totality. I have no idea why.


Edited by joelin, 22 August 2017 - 02:40 PM.


#2 woolbrig

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Posted 22 August 2017 - 03:38 PM

I tested numerous times at home and I set up early (around 8 am) so I could run another test and make sure everything was working.  Everything was working great.  

 

About 15 minutes before totality I was trying to center the sun in frame and for whatever reason I started getting the dreaded Error 16 &17 on my ASGT5.  Fortunately I was able to hit "back" a couple of times and clear the error, but I did panic for a second or two. 

 

My other issues were user error.  Almost forgot to take the filter off for totality.  Didn't have my backup camera on so had to fiddle with it for about 5 secs just before totality.

 

I did get some decent pictures and really enjoyed totality.



#3 bunyon

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Posted 22 August 2017 - 04:43 PM

Three clear problems:

1) SETnC/computer was about a full minute late resulting in my missing about the first third. No matter I got a couple of good shots.

2) I also had my ST80 balance point my scope at zenith when I removed the filter. The problem was an old crappy tripod I rarely use like this. No matter I had binoculars which were excellent.

3) until the sun made it clear the computer was wrong I was pacing off the computer countdown. So I didn't start my video camera before totality. I was blown away, of course, and remembered late so dashed over to hit the button. However I turned it off instead of starting it.

I'm happy that my visualizing operations always called for abandoning gear at any sign of error and I kept to it, enjoying full totality. I've yet to see any images or recordings that capture the effect of totality so I'm fine with my few equipment failures.

#4 bnickeson

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Posted 22 August 2017 - 04:52 PM

The dozens of times practicing really helped most things of mine go off without a hitch, however there were a few things, some of which were beyond my control...

 

The wind!!  I was in Guernsey State Park in Wyoming kind of on a knoll exposed to the wind.  It was a constant 15 mph with gusts to 25 mph.  Kids' kites were getting tore up.  With OTA ranging from 700mm to 1200mm the sun was bouncing around like a pinball in the viewfinder.  I finally had to back my car up within about a foot of my mount and opened the trunk up to block some of it.  It helped a little, as well as the winds dying just a bit during totality, but many of my images still weren't quite as sharp as I had hoped.  Which leads me to...

 

Focus.  I got my refractor focused as well as possible using Live View and it seemed to stay relatively constant as long as I updated it a few minutes before totality and a few minutes after.  The Canon 600mm f/4 with 2x extender I was using, though, seemed to change significantly right at totality.  I adjusted it a few minutes before, but it still seems like many shots were just a touch out of focus during the event.  Autofocus wasn't the best either due to the 2x extender I imagine.

 

Camera orientation.  On my refractor I imaged a bracketed corona sequence and somehow got my wires crossed on how I thought the corona should appear.  I thought I had it oriented so that it would largely be aligned with the diagonal in the frame, but it ended up being close to vertical in the image.  Oops.

 

Eclipse Orchestrator.  I think I already posted about this, but even after practicing my sequence dozens of times and building in padding for likely errors, the program still screwed up my first imagine in totality sequence by triggering it 10 seconds late.  This caused me to miss all of Bailey's Beads and the diamond ring at C2.  During practices, it would always trigger it between two and three seconds late, so I built my interval around that and had about a 5 second delay after my first image before it would take the second.  For whatever reason on real time, this delay became 10 seconds.  Fortunately, besides the initial sequence the bracketing all went correctly and the C3 sequence went correctly so I still have images of BB and the diamond ring.

 

All in all not too bad given the excitement and lack of sleep!



#5 MathewM

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Posted 22 August 2017 - 05:08 PM

3) iPhone video camera. I tried to record video and it gobbled up my 2GB of remaining storage in just 10 minutes (I started maybe 15 minutes before totality). I deleted the file and tried to record more but I forgot to empty the trash folder on iPhone so I missed a video of totality.

 

I expected 2GB of storage to be sufficient for at least 20 minutes of video. It was not.

 

4) Point and shoot camera for backup. 

For some reason the battery was dead during totality. I have no idea why.

 

My iPhone's camera locked up right at totality.  I was going to grab some documentary style footage of my kids reactions.  Oh well.  Strange coincidence.  It wasn't operator error as this happened once or twice before. 

 

As far as planning what gear to have and what to leave behind for the 2024 eclipse:

1:  Leave the Dob at home.  With the solar filter on and the sun near the zenith, it was too much hassle keeping everything in view.  Maybe in seven years I'll have an auto-tracking scope.

2:  My prosumer video camera zoomed in during totality actually provided the best images.  I was able to grab some really nice stills from it along with the live sights and sounds.  For 2024 who knows what kind of tech we'll have.  16K, 120FPS, full size sensor and 24-400mm lens will make having a dedicated still camera un-necessary.  

3: Some kind of 360 degree camera shooting video.  This is to capture the ambience of the event.  Would love to capture all the extra sights and sounds of such as birds flocking back to their nests and the 360 degrees of twilight.


Edited by MathewM, 22 August 2017 - 05:13 PM.


#6 wrvond

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Posted 22 August 2017 - 05:40 PM

I had taken my XT10g with full aperture filter to my brother's house in Nashville and he built an eight inch aperture filter for his 16 inch Lightbridge. The Lightbridge gave amazing views with the 40mm Plossl.

Everybody had a grand time and my brother, who was ambivalent about the eclipse beforehand, declared it one of the most amazing things he'd ever experienced.

The only over sight was I wore jeans instead of shorts and it was brutally hot and humid the whole time we were there (Friday till Tuesday).



#7 bencloud

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Posted 22 August 2017 - 06:02 PM

  1. Not buying or using a DSLR camera adapter
  2. Not buying or using a binocular mount (tape!)
  3. Location was in a field surrounded by trees, so I missed the 360* sunset.
  4. Driving North from Salem, OR instead of South

If I had a do-over, I'd have used two scopes - one for viewing and another for photo/video.

 

What I did right:

  1. I set up three video cameras - one for the sun, one for reactions, facing us, and another wide angle that captured our backs as well as the sun in the sky.
  2. Two viewing scopes.
  3. Leaving Portland at 4am.

Edited by bencloud, 23 August 2017 - 09:48 AM.


#8 Michael Covington

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Posted 22 August 2017 - 06:15 PM

Most of my exposures were too long.  The longest ones showed some lens flare from the inner corona reflecting off lens elements somehow.  (I should have tried a major overexposure of the moon, to see what reflections the lens had.)  None of my exposures was short enough to do justice to the prominences.  The far outer corona, though it was there, didn't interest me as much as I thought it would.

 

I had my binoculars still stowed away at the beginning of totality and couldn't get them out.

 

I devoted too much time to photography (about 3/4 of totality).

 

What I did right:  

Brought a watch set accurate to 1 second and a set of totality predictions also accurate to 1 second.

 

Successful though slow drift alignment of my AVX on the sun during the partial phases.



#9 Michael Covington

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Posted 22 August 2017 - 06:15 PM

Worse, the binoculars are brand-new Zeiss, bought for the occasion!



#10 Greg K.

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Posted 22 August 2017 - 07:24 PM

Left my UV filter on my lens and I think it contributed to the annoying reflections I got for some shots, in particular the diamond ring. I can deal with it in Photoshop but would have been better without them.

 

post-1900-0-52875900-1503356603_thumb.jp


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#11 SKYGZR

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Posted 22 August 2017 - 08:05 PM

"Spaced Out" & forgot to put a cam on a tripod to have it do a wide field video of the gathering/experience...



#12 Thomas A Davis

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Posted 22 August 2017 - 08:19 PM

Wrong location.  Everything setup right.  Scope. mount aligned, camera focused, right tracking rate.  Weather Channel update on phone dead wrong.  Clouds moved in and spent an hour plus chasing a blue sky hole.  When totality came, I was just at the edge of an opening and saw the eclipse through thin clouds.  My backup was my older T3i with image stabilized 250mm zoom. It got the eclipse far better than expected, but if I had not insisted on taking a road that led to a dead end and having to retrace my steps, I would have reached clear sky.  In any event, I saw it and recorded it, but not with the equipment I had planned.

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#13 1074j

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Posted 22 August 2017 - 08:29 PM

This one is going to take the prize for the biggest mistake.  I left the solar filter on during totality as I was 'sure' my automated system was going to do the job and didn't bother checking the first image during totality!  However, I did accomplish one of my two goals which were to actually watch the total phase instead of monkeying with photography the whole time like I did the last eclipse. (1979!)

 

P.S.  If there is anyone that has a sequence of exposures from 1/1000 to .2s they'd like to 'donate' to me so at least I 'd get to process something similar to what I had planned, (with credit of course) I'd be most grateful.


Edited by 1074j, 22 August 2017 - 09:21 PM.

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#14 SteveRosenow

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Posted 22 August 2017 - 08:38 PM

The biggest mistake I made was not testing my capture scripts enough beforehand and discovering gremlins in the code. I had to wing it manually during the entire eclipse in DigicamControl, and by manually operating my cameras (I still enjoyed the show, though!)

The second? Not putting my filters back on when I resumed the five-second-delay sequence for partial phase shots. I had over 1 minute worth of exposures destroyed after C2 because of that. My D5500's sensor came out unscathed, however I haven't checked to see if the D5100's sensor was fried.

Also, I inadvertently kicked my power supply battery, knocking off the power cables to both cameras shortly after totality, losing about 20 seconds worth of time. It's an easy fix by false-composition in Photoshop (manual frame generation), but a mistake nonetheless.

In all, however, I am pleased - very pleased - with both what I saw and the results on my cameras. :)



#15 Dwight J

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Posted 22 August 2017 - 08:38 PM

Two mistakes - left on daylight haze filter so got a reflection and overexposed for the corona.  The shortest exposure was 1/30th sec at ISO 400 at F6.3.  I should have started much faster, at least 1/250th sec.  As it was I got ok images but my main goal was to observe it - accomplished that 100%.



#16 cdavid

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Posted 22 August 2017 - 09:33 PM

Weeks of planning and rehearsing.  I had a small 61mm Apo on a Star Adventurer mount and Canon 7D being controlled by SEM on a Macbook pro (6months old).  Worked beautifully at home in full summer heat during several rehearsals.  Around C1 + 15 minutes it suddenly shuts off.  I think it overheated. Brought it inside and let it cool off and it fired up after a while.  I waited until 10 minutes before C2 to set it up again.  Everything was going well.....then the excitement and emotions took over.  I heard the camera clicking away and was comforted as I sat there with my wife and daughter in awe!!  Then silence...the computer died again.  No matter it captured through Max eclipse.........then that brilliant pure white light shot out from behind the moon.  I was just completely breathless.  What an event....what an experience......

 

I sat up and looked around.......  I FORGOT TO TAKE THE FILTER OFF!!!!!!!!!! WHAAAAAAAA!!!!!!   I have perhaps the tiniest sliver filtered shot ever taken and dozens of pure black images bawling.gif bawling.gif bawling.gif

 

Luckily I had a full frame canon with a 14mm lens firing a frame per second and that worked well.  My friend had "crazily" put magic lantern on his canon with a 300mm lens the night before at 2am after I told him about the program.  Thank goodness....it worked like a charm and we have at least those images to play with.

 

Still what a memorable and incredible day!

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#17 Mad MikeE

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Posted 22 August 2017 - 10:03 PM

When I switched from internal to external batteries, did not notice that RAW + Large JPG -> Large JPG shocked.gifundecided.gifbawling.gif on t3i attached to at65edq (t5i just had a 135 zoom on it, but it stayed @ RAW+Large JPG whew.gif )

 

Still not bad as it could have been and everything else worked perfectly.



#18 Rickycardo

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Posted 22 August 2017 - 10:30 PM

I tested and tested and only had a couple of hiccups:

Eclipse Orchestrator and Solar Eclipse Timer seemed to be off from each other by about 4 seconds, making it a little confusing trying to automate everything.

Both my scripts ended about 3 seconds early. I could have had a few more images. I was running 2 cameras.

I tried setting up early and taking plenty of time to align my scope but I didn't do well enough and kept adjusting the scope to center the Sun every 6-7 minutes. I made an adjustment about 2 minutes out and left it until after totality.

My focus looks a little soft on my camera/lens combo. I think I might have bumped the focus when unscrewing the solar filter. The shots seem good enough to keep but they could be a bit sharper.

Next time I think I'll work for a simpler setup.



#19 ismosi

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Posted 22 August 2017 - 10:30 PM

I had a dual scope setup ... my Ha scope for partial and my modded DSLR for totality.

 

I set up  my mount the night before and polar aligned with my polar alignment scope. On eclipse day, put together the rest of the rig and did a GOTO and the Sun was just about dead center. But then ..

 

1) Forgot to edit my 'interval' script for FireCapture to cover the whole eclipse - had it still set for my testing loop (not a biggie, just did a quick edit and started over).

 

2) Could not focus in LiveView with the Nikon .. the image was blown out either on the camera viewfinder or when I tried BYN. Eventually had to take images and do the 'better or worse' thing ..

 

3) I used Solar Eclipse Maestro. It 'missed' one of the 62 images, but, no big deal.

 

My priority was visual and I got that and a bunch of images as well. Could not have turned out much better.



#20 dan_hm

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Posted 22 August 2017 - 10:55 PM

I bracketed 2 stops at 1/125 and 1/4; in the latter sequence the 1s exposures are way overexposed and don't seem to capture anything that the 1/4s exposures don't.  Thankfully this is only 6 out of 95 exposures that I took during totality.  Also, most of my frames are off center since I wasn't using a tracking mount and only adjusted my tripod once during totality.  

 

But I could care less about these problems since I watched the full 2 minutes 38 seconds with naked eye and binoculars, only looking down at my camera once for a brief second to adjust exposure and move the tripod. Even though I broke the rules by trying to take pictures during my first eclipse, I didn't fall into the trap of missing it due to equipment worries.



#21 1074j

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Posted 22 August 2017 - 11:36 PM

Weeks of planning and rehearsing.  I had a small 61mm Apo on a Star Adventurer mount and Canon 7D being controlled by SEM on a Macbook pro (6months old).  Worked beautifully at home in full summer heat during several rehearsals.  Around C1 + 15 minutes it suddenly shuts off.  I think it overheated. Brought it inside and let it cool off and it fired up after a while.  I waited until 10 minutes before C2 to set it up again.  Everything was going well.....then the excitement and emotions took over.  I heard the camera clicking away and was comforted as I sat there with my wife and daughter in awe!!  Then silence...the computer died again.  No matter it captured through Max eclipse.........then that brilliant pure white light shot out from behind the moon.  I was just completely breathless.  What an event....what an experience......

 

I sat up and looked around.......  I FORGOT TO TAKE THE FILTER OFF!!!!!!!!!! WHAAAAAAAA!!!!!!   I have perhaps the tiniest sliver filtered shot ever taken and dozens of pure black images bawling.gif bawling.gif bawling.gif

 

Luckily I had a full frame canon with a 14mm lens firing a frame per second and that worked well.  My friend had "crazily" put magic lantern on his canon with a 300mm lens the night before at 2am after I told him about the program.  Thank goodness....it worked like a charm and we have at least those images to play with.

 

Still what a memorable and incredible day!

I was hoping I was the only one....


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#22 woodscavenger

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Posted 22 August 2017 - 11:55 PM

Forgot the filter until about 10 seconds in.

 

During the run up to totality I was using Backyard EOS.  I had loaded a preset sequence and didnt want to muck that up so during the lesser points I used a feature that said "snap image" which I did about every 5 minutes.  Little did I know that the beautiful slivers and crescent I was seeing on the snap image section were not images saved to the computer!!!!   ARRGGGHHHH.  I have only the totality images.......



#23 j4b2w

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Posted 23 August 2017 - 12:22 AM

This one is going to take the prize for the biggest mistake.  I left the solar filter on during totality as I was 'sure' my automated system was going to do the job and didn't bother checking the first image during totality!  However, I did accomplish one of my two goals which were to actually watch the total phase instead of monkeying with photography the whole time like I did the last eclipse. (1979!)

 

P.S.  If there is anyone that has a sequence of exposures from 1/1000 to .2s they'd like to 'donate' to me so at least I 'd get to process something similar to what I had planned, (with credit of course) I'd be most grateful.

I'm more than happy to share with a catch.  I'm so totally new to processing, I haven't a clue how to get from my raw image files to the picture I have in my mind.  I recognize it may not be possible.  I keep looking at Miloslav Druckmuller's stuff and I'm both inspired and discouraged.  I don't expect to match his efforts, but I'd like to come fairly close to what is possible with the raw data I've captured.  Anyway, the catch if you're interested is a basic description of your processing workflow to get your result.  To be open about my images (which might be good as its own entry to the thread), I didn't double check and I was one stop over exposed through the sequence.  The most over exposed is just a throw away, but it leaves me missing one capture short in the sequence on the fastest shutter speed end of the sequence.

 

PM me if interested in such a bargain.  

 

Thanks,

 

Jim

 

*** recent thought edit.  You may be able to get some earth shine moon details out of the super over exposed shot so you can have that one too if you'd like.


Edited by j4b2w, 23 August 2017 - 12:38 AM.


#24 Joe F Gafford

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Posted 23 August 2017 - 02:02 AM

  Resetting the counterweights before this run. I had the CCD camera on 2 nights before. I blamed the drive battery at first then I went for the beefier one before the neuron fired off. Adjusted the weights and got it right before the first contact. I had 2 cameras rolling. One still camera on the 10" Newtonian focus, the video camera piggybacked. It went well until the low battery indicator in the old Olympus DSLR showed-up in the middle of totality! That utterance is recorded on the video. The camera kept going until I replaced that battery 2 minutes after totality. I got the whole sequence from C-1 to C-4 shot with the still camera.

 

Joe



#25 RussL

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Posted 23 August 2017 - 03:35 AM

No mistakes here. No go-to or anything automated or needing alignment. Just eclipse glasses, 10x50s, a 10" glass solar filter, a cereal box viewer, and a big box viewer you could put your head in. Simple.
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