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Best Realistic Totality Image/Video?

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#1 quantumgiggles



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Posted 11 April 2024 - 06:57 PM

I've seen amazing footage of Monday's eclipse, but I have yet to see an unmagnified, natural image or video depicting how the eclipse actually looks for an observer. It seems like it's tricky to photograph given the dynamic range involved. Most wide-angle images seem to overexpose the corona such that it looks like a bright fuzzy halo around the eclipsed Sun, but in reality it looked more detailed and structured. But zoomed in with a powerful lens or telescope, it looks too professional and loses the magic of the eclipse against the backdrop of a deep blue sky.


This image I found of 2019's eclipse from Nicolas Lefaudeux is probably the closest I've seen to the naked-eye view, but even then it looks a little too clean. Can anyone recommend a good example?



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#2 WadeH237


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Posted 12 April 2024 - 05:14 AM

I've never seen an image closer to the live view than what you've posted here.  It's excellent, and pretty close.


Still, it simply does not capture the feeling that I've during the two total eclipses that I've seen in person (I've actually witnessed 3, but the one in 1979 was clouded out).  I think that part of it is dynamic range.  I think that part of it is the result of other effects, like temperature change, animal behavior (including the sounds birds, animals and insects make), etc.  And I think that part if it is the very slow transition to surreal lighting and unnaturally sharp shadows through late partiality and the fast change to darkness at the start of totality.

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#3 Starry_Spruce


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Posted 12 April 2024 - 07:48 AM

Part of me suspects the sun was enlarged in that image. And that's the issue: you can't capture accurate proportions while also capturing the perceived closeness of the event when viewing in person.

Not only do we see in greater dynamic range, but we can look around to effectively extend our field of voew. Additionally--and this is obvious but seldom talked about-- when you are there in person the brilliant light of the corona, atmosphere, etc. is entering your eyes directly, while when you look at a photo the light is coming from a screen or from a print reflecting whatever light is in the room.

Edited by Starry_Spruce, 12 April 2024 - 07:50 AM.

#4 Starry_Spruce


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Posted 12 April 2024 - 08:40 AM

The other thing to consider is that when viewing in person, the proportion of our field of view that the sun takes up is way larger than the field of view it takes up when we look at an image of it, unless the image is being projected in a sort of virtual reality type environment. In other words, photos are small objects (even large prints are small compared to our entire field of view), and so a small sun in a small photo just looks extra small, even though it is proportional to the other objects in the photo. 




 I have yet to see an unmagnified, natural image

Bearing in mind what I said above, I suggest your search for a 'natural' and unmagnified image is an inaccurate pursuit. There's no such thing as a natural image. And there's really no such thing as magnification in photography. It's all about field of view, resolution, etc. An image drawn from a long focal length scope will show the sun taking up a large portion of the frame, but when we view it on a screen, it doesn't mean it is somehow less realistic or 'larger' than reality. I think discussing the level of available detail may be a better indicator of what is 'most natural.' Certainly long exposure photography that has been processed brings out detail we could not make out with the naked eye.


Also keep in mind different people can discern different levels of detail. Part of this is a physical difference in the eye, but its also a brain difference. Visual observers often note how viewing an object for a long time allows you to see more detail. This isn't the same as a long exposure photograph in terms of making something a lot brighter, but our brains are able collect data over time and process the image we perceive over a non-zero period of time. Similarly, many experienced observers note being able to see detail immediately that novices cannot because the novices don't yet know 'how' to see. 

#5 Starhunter249


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Posted 12 April 2024 - 08:59 AM

 I learned every eclipse is different and unique. The 2024 eclipse is very close to that picture. I would say visually, the white ring around the dark moon was much more dense and brilliant to my eyes. What is also missing is those bright sharp and glaring pinkish/ruby red prominences that spiked out from the edges of the dark moon. We also had some hazy yet transparent cirrus clouds that obscured the farther reaches of the corona. Depended a lot on the high altitude clouds at your location.

#6 chvvkumar


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Posted 12 April 2024 - 09:20 AM

This was pretty realistic to what it was like to my naked eye. Taken with my phone



#7 Exeligmos


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Posted 12 April 2024 - 10:06 AM

As mentioned above, extreme dynamic range of the light and perceived closeness are the inhibiting factors with photography

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#8 geovermont


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Posted 12 April 2024 - 10:24 AM

I do love to see the attempts at portrayal of eclipses. Somtimes a photo is not the best route to portraying what our eye sees: You might like the eclipse paintings of Howard Russell Butler:


#9 dghundt


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Posted 12 April 2024 - 01:51 PM

To capture the corona close to what we saw with our naked eyes (and better), you'd need to stack multiple exposure bracketed images together into a corona composite.  My high end camera sensor just can't get that amount of dynamic range.  I found the only method that worked for me (in Photoshop) was Fred Espanak's article that used a radial contrast technique.  It worked marvelously.

After you have the corona done, you'd have to add back the prominences and a background for the visible stars, nice sky, and reduce some noise.  Since I attached my telephoto lens to a low end GEM, I did not have to align the images before processing, which was a deliberate consideration in planning.


For most going through the effort to do all that, they will likely be getting in closer and not bother with the widefield.

Edited by dghundt, 12 April 2024 - 01:53 PM.

#10 Starry_Spruce


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Posted 12 April 2024 - 02:06 PM


After you have the corona done, you'd have to add back the prominences 

Are you using masking for that? If so, how are you setting up the mask (luminosity channel? Manual?)?

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