Jackson Hole Total Eclipse Guide

Jackson Hole Total Eclipse Guide
I’m super excited for my new book to come out this month: Jackson Hole Total Eclipse Guide, the Commemorative Official Guidebook. It’s loaded with eclipse photography specifics, safety info, and locations to shoot from. If you want to photograph the eclipse over the Grand Teton, this book has specific locations to shoot from. It has specific locations to be in on August 21, 2017.
Photographing an eclipse is actually pretty dangerous. I partly fried the inside of my D300s during the 2012 partial eclipse. Oops! My Nikon still works but it was a good lesson. It was like looking into a laser beam.
It also explains how to photograph the total eclipse. The difference between shooting a partial and a total eclipse is massive. Your exposure goes from, well, the sun, all the way to starlight in a few seconds. Can you shoot 11 bracketed shots in 2 minutes under pressure? That’s what it takes to capture that corona and the stars.

Jackson Hole Total Eclipse Guide Photography Locations

sun over grand tetonWhere are some good locations to photograph the eclipse from? The book has loads of locations, how to get there, and where to stand to take the shot you want.
Some locations are well known, others are secret and quite unexpected. There is only one place in the entire region that you can get the total eclipse anywhere close to the Grand Teton. And it’s not where you might think.

Photography Filters for a Total Eclipse

eclipse imageWhat density filter will you use for the partial eclipse? You’re looking at the sun. Not just any filter will do the job.
If you think you’ll use your iPhone or Android to photograph the eclipse, you’ll end up with a sun image that’s 40 pixels wide. The book has a simulation of different focal lengths for full-frame and crop sensors.

Where will the sun be?

The book explains exactly where the sun will be. Whether you’re in Teton Valley, Grand Teton National Park, or Jackson Hole, you need to know where to view the eclipse from. For this particular total eclipse, basic viewing is easy! But getting a good photograph is a big challenge. The Jackson Hole Total Eclipse Guide gives you that information and more.

Get the Jackson Hole Total Eclipse Guide


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Old Bill’s Fun Run timelapse

Old Bills screenshot
Old Bills screenshot

The Community Foundation of Jackson Hole has asked me to produce a timelapse of the Old Bill’s Fun Run at the start line. This is quite an honor, as this is a major town event that has pulled in over $100M in charity money since 1997.

It’ll be a challenge to compress 3 hours of setting up, preparation, and gathering into about 30 seconds of useful finished video. I’ve done time lapses, multispeed shots before, so it’s not a new thing. This is more of how to capture the scale of the people

This should be a fun time!

Storm over the Tetons

Jackson Lake Lodge view
Jackson Lake Lodge view

After attending Thomas Mangelsen’s talk at the Willow Turnout just south of Jackson Lake Lodge in Grand Teton National Park, I decided to head over to the lodge for lunch. As I had all of my camera gear with me, I could not resist taking some photographs with the tourists.

These shots were taken way too late in the day, though they still show the beauty of the location. If you click on the picture, you will receive a scaled down version of the 46MP (megapixel) panoramic photo. This image was stitched together from my Nikon D800 shot with a Nikon 85mm f1.4D lens at f11 and 1/320 of a second.

All of the technical superlatives aside, this was a great day for shooting because there was a storm roiling over the mountains and made for much more interesting shots than we’ve had in the last week.

A few flakes of snow fell as Manglesen was giving his talk in conjunction with the Grand Teton Park Association. He was the first photography speaker they’ve had at the location. Normally they’ll have writers or painters, but I was told they were finally able to coax one of the local famous photographers to share some of their stories. I also saw Loren &  Barbara of the Teton Photo Group as well as Roger of Jackson Hole Wildlife Safaris at the talk.

D800 dreamyAlso, while I was enjoying my ham and cheese sandwich, my favorite after my return from Antarctica, I shot a time-lapse of the clouds rolling across the mountains. While the camera was clicking away, a lady walked up to the camera and tried to look through the viewfinder. I asked her to be careful and not touch the camera. She said she didn’t and continued on. As I had the D800’s viewfinder cover shielded, there was nothing to see except a flap of plastic. But she sure tried. Once I process the time-lapse, I’ll find out if anything went awry.

I love shooting time-lapse videos on the D800. I’m able to use my manual focus lenses with their manual control aperture rings, eliminating the annoying flicker that normal G lenses suffer from. I’ll have to re-post my article on how to eliminate flicker from time-lapse shots without using software. As the D800 has a built-in intervalometer, I don’t have to worry about having another annoying cable floating around. Granted, I can only shoot 1000 shots with the built-in version, but I’ve rarely had the need for more.

As I’m writing this, I’m sure I’ll find a need for it. But at 30 frames per second (fps), a 1000 frame sequence gives me 33 seconds of 1080p HD video. That’s more than enough for editing videos unless I’m going to do something exotic. That exotic might justify the expense of a fancy intervalometer and a time-lapse rail from Milapse’s Dynamic Perception group. We talked years ago when he was figuring this out and he’s got it down to a science now. Their products are highly recommended.

How to get rid of flicker when making time lapse movies from D200 intervalometer shoots

When making time lapse movie of DSLR intervalometer shot sequences, there is an inevitable flicker in the resulting video because there are tiny variations in where the aperture is set every time a shot is taken.  This is a large problem, encountered in major movies such as Corpse Bride and other stop animation major films. There are incredibly expensive cameras available to do this sort of shooting.  However, the D200 on its Small-Fine setting has just sightly more resolution than HD 1080p video.  Thus, it is possible to create time lapse HD footage with a Nikon D200 or other equivalent camera.  The only problem, not a small one, is to surmount in the inter-frame variations in exposure due to not perfectly accurate aperture repeatability. Here is an example:

Click on the below Quicktime samples. They are 600kB to 1.5MB, so they take a moment to download.

This sample has the flicker problem:
Flickering sample 1

However, if the D200 is set to manual aperture control rather than sub-command dial control, the camera relies on the aperture ring of the lens to make the stop when shooting.   These three sequences do not exhibit the flickering after reverting to aperture ring mode on the aperture setting of the D200.  Menu option f5, set to aperture ring rather than sub-command dial.

Bland sunset non-flicker

“Billow clouds are created from instability associated with air flows having marked vertical shear and weak thermal stratification. The common name for this instability is Kelvin-Helmholtz instability. These instabilities are often visualized as a row of horizontal eddies aligned within this layer of vertical shear.” – University of Illinois
Billow clouds non-flicker #1
Billow clouds non-flicker #2

The aperture ring trick was suggested by Bjorn Rorslett who is probably the most knowledgeable people about the inner workings of Nikon cameras outside of the engineers who create them.  Here is the posting where he explains why regular aperture selection does not work:

“Reprogram your D200 to allow the apertures to be set using the ring on the lens.  When you rely on the camera’s dial to set the aperture, there will be unavoidable variations as the lens stops down. This is because the camera *calculates* the necessary movement of the actuating lever, and also controls its end-point of travel.  If you instead order the camera to rely on the lens, the actuating lever hits a dead solid stop inside the lens instead, thus minimizing the variation in actual aperture.”

Note – The above videos lined through were removed when we updated our site.