Almost total(ly unprepared for) eclipse, 20th March 2015

I don’t have a 600mm lens. I do have a set of Lee grad ND filters, but don’t use them these days (much better results with merging exposures in RAW files). I don’t (horror) have a Big Stopper. Nevertheless I had this morning free so headed to the western moor. 

Initially delighted that the sky was blue and clear, I soon realised I wasn’t really equipped to deal with the intense light of the sun without any cloud veil. Almost every exposure, no matter how underexposed from the camera reading, showed a sun that seemed to be exploding, with no sign of the moon at all.  Two frames only have some recoverable detail – both around 8 stops below the camera’s auto exposure. Here’s one of them.

Eclipse seen from Dartmoor March 20th 2015

The RAW file with recovered highlights finally revealed a little detail. Not as crisp as I usually like my images thanks to my long-standing habit of leaving the camera in manual focus (and I couldn’t focus on the sun, could I?!). Also not as crisp as many images already published. In its favour though, this approach (i.e. turning up without the equipment you need, and overexposing everything) has shown some of the sky detail surrounding the sun that would otherwise just be totally black. I rather like that. I think next time though, I’d prefer just a bit of haze. I’ll set my iPhone calendar now to remind me of all this for the next one in 2026.

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