Speaking in Driggs

I’m excited to be speaking in Driggs, Idaho on August 9, 2017, at the senior center. I’ll talk about how to view, photograph, and enjoy the total eclipse on August 21, 2017.

You want to make sure to attend this talk if you’re in the area. How will you safely view the eclipse? What’s the best way to avoid damaging your camera or your eyes? I’ll tell you how!

This will be an exciting and entertaining talk. As a motivational speaker, I’ll add energy and excitement to the presentation. No boring stuff here!

Wyoming Total Eclipse Guide

wyoming total eclipse guideSastrugi Press is super excited for our new book to come out this month: Wyoming Total Eclipse Guide, the Commemorative Official Keepsake Guidebook. It’s loaded with eclipse photography specifics, safety info, and locations to shoot from.
If you want to photograph the eclipse over Wyoming, this book has specific locations to shoot from. It has specific locations to be in on August 21, 2017.

This book is a keepsake. Get a copy for each of your family members.

Each can write down their emotions and remember this unique and once-in-a-lifetime event in Wyoming. The back of the book has prompts for notes. Write down your personal experience with the total solar eclipse, the first in the US since 1979.


Get your Wyoming Total Eclipse Guide Today


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Keepsake Notes Section

Here are the note sections you can write down in your Wyoming Total Eclipse Guide:
  • Who was I with?
  • What did I see?
  • What did I feel?
  • What did the people with me think?
  • Where did I stay?
Years later you can read about your family memories with this book. For some, this may be the one and only total eclipse they will ever see.

Eclipse Photography

Photographing an eclipse is actually pretty dangerous. The author partly fried the inside of his D300s during the 2012 partial eclipse. Oops! His Nikon still works but it was a good lesson. It was like photographing a military laser beam.
The book 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.

Wyoming 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 Jackson, Casper, Douglas, Riverton, or Grand Teton National Park, 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 Wyoming Total Eclipse Guide gives you that information and more.

Get the Wyoming Total Eclipse Guide

Purchase your signed Wyoming Total Eclipse Guide here. Add some eclipse glasses to the package. Be ready for the biggest event to come to Jackson and Grand Teton ever!

Solar Eclipse 2014

Click for a larger picture
Click for a larger picture

We enjoyed a lunar eclipse just a few weeks ago but today we in North America were treated to a much rarer solar eclipse. The spectacle today was quite enjoyable in Jackson, WY, even though there were clouds obscuring the event right up to the peak. Then, miraculously, the clouds parted and we were treated to quite a sight.

The peak time in Wyoming was 4:23PM MST.  I’m betting someone got an interesting shot over the Tetons. I’ll bet Mike Jackson or Mike Cavaroc got something good, even though it was pretty overcast over there.

Click for a larger picture
Click for a larger picture

One of the most interesting parts of this event was the very large sun spots nearly in the middle of the sun. As we are in a peak of the sun spot cycle, this made for an especially interesting event. These sun spots are -only- at 2,700–4,200 °C compared to the surface of the sun at a comfortable 5,500 °C. This is the reason they appear so much darker. It isn’t that they’re not that hot, it’s just everything around them is that much hotter.

Live viewing with special filters for those in overcast and invisible areas can be seen on www.space.com. Of course! The most interesting thing visible in the online view was the solar flare or prominence. These are 1,600,000,000 times more powerful and the biggest atomic bomb ever made.  They are 10’s of millions of degrees celcius. Wrap your head around that one. The best part is no scientist knows why they occur. There are still mysteries out there.

One of the best tools for viewing a solar eclipse are these solar eclipse glasses. They’re sold on Amazon and such. Using these, you can actually stare straight at the sun. I have a pair and it’s pretty amazing that you can do that, as they block both the UV and visible light spectrum. You can look at the unobscured sun as well. Of course put them on BEFORE looking at the sun.

Click for larger picture
See the sunspots? Click for larger picture

How did I get these photographs of the solar eclipse? Here’s the gear I used:

Nikon D800

Nikon 80-400mm f/4-5.6

Hoya 77mm NDx400 9 stop filter

Hoya 77mm Neutral Density (NDX8) 0.9 3-stop filter

Manfrotto Tripod and Kirk BH-3 ball head

These filters in combination were dark enough to look at the maximum eclipse without and problems. Once the moon started moving away from the sun, I had to use the DOF preview button on the D800 to keep viewing the event safely. Even adding on my Singh-Ray polarizer on top of these filters wouldn’t have been dark enough without either solar glasses or using the DOF preview.

I then shot all of my images on RAW and the above three are the best that came out. Other than shifting the color a bit to look more natural, these are as they came out of my D800. Normally I photograph jewelry, advertising, architecture and such, but fun sky displays always bring me outside.

WARNING: As always, NEVER look straight at the sun, ESPECIALLY through your camera. Permanent eye damage isn’t fun.

Moon eclipse with Spica

Click for larger picture
Click for larger picture

The full eclipse of the moon as viewed from Eagle, CO, was a sight to behold. At first, when the full moon rose at 7:30pm MST, it looked spectacularly large on the horizon. Though this is only a visual effect and the moon was no larger on the horizon than it is straight overhead, the effect is still stunning.

After waiting for hours, the moon began its slow progression into darkness, moving from the outer shadow of the Earth (penumbra) and through to the inner shadow of the Earth (umbra). Once the moon was fully eclipsed,  it turned to a copper color. Some describe this as a “blood moon”. I enjoyed watching the transition from daylight bright to a deep, ruddy color.

There are several enjoyable aspects of a lunar eclipse:

  • You can look straight at the moon and not damage your eyes
  • They “seem” to be more frequent than solar eclipses
  • The effect is chilling

One beautiful part of this eclipse was the moon was a few degrees from Spica in the constellation Virgo. At first the moon was bright enough to overwhelm the 15th brightest star the sky. But as the moon fell into the Earth’s shadow, that imbalance changed until Spica, a giant blue star, gracefully complementing the scene.

For the photographers out there, here is what I shot with:

and the settings on the camera were:

  • ISO 640
  • f5.6
  • 1 second

DSC_D8_4036 star trailThe thing about shooting with a 180mm telephoto lens on a full-frame sensor body is that shooting any longer than 1 second causes the sky objects to begin leaving tell-tale streaks, better known as star trails. Also, I wanted as much sharpness as I could get out of my 180mm, so I shot it at f5.6 rather than f2.8. At effectively infinite distance, the depth of field didn’t matter, but the smaller aperture made for easier focusing. It also helps reduce or eliminate halos around highly contrasted subjects, too.

As can be seen in the extreme crop at the right, the star is no longer a point but rather an oblong shape, indicating the 1.6 second shot was too long.

Ansel Adams shot moon
Ansel Adams shot moon

An hour after the moon rose on the horizon, I photographed it as a comparison point against the eclipsed version. Using Ansel Adam’s oft-quoted formula, I knew exactly the exposure I wanted to put the moon in Zone VII to make it properly bright without being blown out. Here are my settings:

  • ISO 100
  • f11
  • 1/60 sec

Those settings or a proportionate variation will give you great full moon shots. The exposure setting has to do with knowing the luminance of the full moon is 250 cd/ft^2. Using that setting as the shutter speed, one can place the moon in Zone V. But that makes the moon gray. So to make the moon a bright but not blown out Zone VII, all I have to do is drop the shutter speed 2 stops, from 1/250 – 1/125 – 1/60. A perfect moon every time.

Note that with a setting of 1/60, a lens like the 180mm will be blurry due to handholding. This is where both the tripod and exposure delay come in. Even on a tripod, shooting that slow with a long lens will show vibration. Adding mirror lockup is even better. The initial vibrations damp out from the shutter slap. Then, depressing the shutter release again, the D800 begins its 3 second shutter delay. For really long shots, I’ll even use the camera’s self timer and set it for 10 seconds with mirror lockup.

Happy moon photography!