How I Enjoyed and Photographed the Eclipse

Today’s Post by Barry Staver

I’ve spent my entire career behind the camera, looking thru that tiny viewfinder or slightly larger LCD screen. I’ve seen and photographed more people and events than I can recall. Been to more places than ever dreamed possible. Yet I’ve missed much of the overall experience at them because I was so engrossed in shooting pictures for a client. It’s not possible to both shoot and completely enjoy or participate in the event unfolding before you. I’ve recently read research reports and stories that back this up. People who are constantly holding up their smart phones to shoot selfie’s and other photos generally miss what’s actually happening around them. True, they have a record of it, but they miss part of the actual experience. I’ve done it to make a living.

I didn’t want to miss “experiencing the total eclipse,” yet still wanted to photograph it. Logistics worked out nicely, ending up in America’s Heartland, just west of Geneva, Nebraska, at the edge of corn and soybean fields. The moon only blocked the sun completely for about 2 minutes. Certainly need a good action plan in place beforehand.

First photo taken 90 minutes before totality, just as the moon started to cover the sun. Early arrival to our locale, then driving along the farm roads led us to this perfect spot. No crowds, just peace and quiet. Time for a picnic lunch and some harmonica playing as the eclipse began.

Not wanting to risk damage to the sensor of my new Lumix GH5, I used an older GH4 for the shot. A sturdy tripod and the Lumix G Vario 100-300mm f/4-5.6 II Power OIS lens complete the rig. I didn’t invest in any special filters, but viewed the sun thru the glasses and only when it reached totality did I point the lens skyward to shoot. 1/100 sec @f/5.4, ISO of 200. Camera was set to auto bracket in ½ stop increments + and – 2 f/stops so I could fire off lots of frames and then sit down and fully experience the eerie darkness surrounding us in that isolated field.


Barry and Joe Farace are co-authors of Better Available Light Digital Photography that’s out-of-print with new copies available from Amazon for $19.95 (non-Prime) or used copies for only $7 as I write this.