The Great American Eclipse
Rocky Mountain Photo Council Lecture
The Rocky Mountain Photo Council is a way for the clubs in Idaho, Montana, Utah, and Wyoming to inform each other of major events going in their areas. In particular, the two photo clubs in Idaho Falls (EIPS and High Desert Photographers) sponsored a lecture by Jim Vail, a member of the Idaho Falls Astronomical Society, on June 29, 2017. Mr. Vail has traveled around the world to view eclipses, and his talk was very informative.
We learned about preparing for photographing the upcoming eclipse by taking practice pictures beforehand. He recommended using a telephoto lens for the eclipse shots (200 to 800 mm). A series of pictures of the moon is helpful to determine the camera settings that provide the best focus. He explained how to protect the camera lens during the period before and after totality, by cutting up a pair of eclipse glasses, taping the film inside onto a filter, and covering the rest of the filter with an opaque tape (a large field of vision is not needed for seeing the eclipse itself). For the 109 seconds of totality, a script is helpful so the photographer can take a few pictures at different settings without thinking much about the process—even the photographer will want to see the eclipse directly rather than fiddle with camera settings the whole time. He suggested a picture about every 5 minutes during the period when the moon is gradually obstructing the sun. He also recommended that a photographer have an assistant with a point-and-shoot camera (with a wider angle) to take pictures of the scenery and surroundings during the eclipse.
Mr. Vail's expertise was also highlighted in the following article from the Idaho Falls Post-Register:2/12/2016 Post Register Article