Solar Eclipse and Listener Questions

In Master Photography Roundtable by Jeff HarmonLeave a Comment

Jim talks with Jeff and Brent about shooting the solar eclipse and listener questions about sharpening, keeping TIF files, getting past being a beginning photographer, and balancing time as a hobbyist photographerShooting the Eclipse

  • Unless you have been hiding under a rock you must know that a rare event is coming up on 8/21 where a full solar eclipse is going to sweep across America like the sash on a beauty pageant contestant.  Starting in the upper north west in Oregon and ends in the south east in South Carolina.
  • Brent and I did an entire Photo Taco episode about photographing the eclipse and we’ll make sure to put a link to that in the show notes.  But a few more resources have come up since then so we wanted to briefly cover those in this IP episode.
  • First Brent, give like the 2-minute recap about what you need and how to shoot the eclipse.
  • I don’t know why I didn’t think it would be a craze to see the eclipse, but I got serious about trying to get somewhere to shoot it waaaay too late 🙂  The wife and I were going to drive north 3.5 hours to Idaho Falls, find a little spot to shoot in, spend the night in a hotel, and then mosey on over to the spot for the eclipse.  Turns out there are no hotels available and half of the US seems to have plans to migrate toward the spots where the eclipse will go through so now we are going to stick at home.  Which means I needed to figure out where I should go to have a chance at making the most of what I will see and I am using the Photo Pills app to do that.
    • For those that may not have heard the Photo Taco episode covering the seriously good Photo Pills application that is indispensable for planning your outdoor photography shoot, check that one out to by searching “photo taco photopills.”  Since doing that episode the Photo Pills guys have added some specific functionality to the app to help you plan your eclipse shot.
    • They have a really good guide online on how to use the app to do that which will be linked to in the show notes ( but briefly what you do is going into the Planner pill and you swipe from right to left on the very top part of the planner until you see something that says “No eclipse is loaded”.  You tap the button to the left of that wording and it will change to say “Total Solar Eclipse – August 21, 2017”
    • For me here in Herriman, Utah it says I will still have a Magnitude 0.916 eclipse!  So I will actually see it where there is only a small sliver of sun showing that doesn’t get covered by the moon.  I won’t have that hole dark shadow experience where it looks like night time outside, but it will still be kind of exciting to see.
    • If you swipe from right to left one more time at the top of the Planner pill you will see something that shows the different phases of the eclipse and the times they will happen in your area.  For me in Herriman it will start at 10:14am where the moon will just start to block the sun, it will progress to having the moon most cover the sun at 11:34am and then be almost completely uncovered again by 12:59pm.
    • If you click on the icon to the left of that information then the time in the planner will change to those times of those phases.  First click the planner time will change to 10:14am for me and show me where the sun will be at that point.
    • In fact, now that the time is moved to 8/21 at 10:14am I can swipe from left to right on the top of the Planner pill until I get to the Sun and Moon information and can see that the sun will be at 38.28 degrees of elevation at that time.  At 11:34am when it is as covered as it will get for me the sun will be all the way up to 51.53 degrees and when the eclipse is over it will be at 60.52 degrees.
    • I can use this information, along with the Augmented Reality features of PhotoPills,  to go out over the next several days to find a composition that includes the Sun being that high in the sky.
  • Brent, what other resources should do you want to make sure the listeners are aware of?


Listener Questions

  • Bob Fishel: Do you sharpen in lightroom or photoshop.. Why?  I ask because I’ve just learned how to sharpen in photoshop using unsharp mask and it makes me feel like I need to go back and put everything through photoshop as the sharpening is SO Much better than lightrooms….
  • Nelson Tapias: When round tripping from photoshop (focus stacking, panoramas, composite, etc) do you keep the GIANT tiff files or do you tweak to your liking and only keep a high quality jpeg?
  • Paul Pak: Hi Jeff! I would love to get your thoughts on a question I’ve been wanting to ask you for a long time. Anyone who learns from all of IP’s resources can quickly go from beginner to hobbyist. But so many of us get stuck at that level. Can you please share your thoughts on how to go from hobbyist to the next level? Not turning into a full time professional, but how to level up from being a hobbyist. Seems like this is a place where so many of us get stuck. You’ve been really successful in this regard so would love to hear your advice!
    • Thanks so much for the very kind words Paul.  I really appreciate it.  So many of the IP community are so nice to me and it is really fun.
    • No magic bullet here for sure.  Everyone’s journey is going to be a different.
      • The one thing I want to say first off is that gear is not that answer.  It certainly can help, lenses in particular, but you can do great things with entry level and inexpensive equipment.
      • Become a ninja with your camera.  Learn how to use every single button, menu, and option on your camera.  Get so that you can handle it without thinking.  The sooner you can have that camera be a tool in your hand rather than something you are fumbling around with, the sooner you can have your brain focus on creating a photo.
      • Keep at it, shooting as much as you can work it in, and taking risks.  Annual Top Ten process has really helped me.  I can see continual improvement year over year and come up with goals for the next year.  My portraits made a HUGE step forward when I added flash
      • (Brent’s) Focus on the meaning, intent and story of your images. Pretty images are great, adding a greater context is one thing that can help you move to that elusive “next level” in your image-making process.
      • (Brent’s #2) Training, advice, critique
  • Peter Barrie: Being a hobbyist, explain your process for balancing time with all your other responsibilities.
    • Brent, you are not a hobbyist photographer, but you don’t do photography as your full time job either.  So how do you manage your time with it? (GREAT QUESTION!:)
    • This is sooo hard for me.
      • Especially right now where the sunrise happens just after I leave my house in the morning to commute to work.  I am constantly seeing things that I wish I had time to stop and shoot.  I have so many ideas for personal projects and things I know I need to learn to continue down the path of improving.
      • All of that takes time and with 3 kids who are very active in many activities, a lot of involvement in my church, podcasting, and a 9-5 job, I get about 4-8 hours a week for photography.
      • What is working for me is to think through how I can incorporate photography into things my family is already doing.  I can shoot my kids as they are doing all the things they are like soccer and play practice right now.  I can get up early on vacations to shoot a sunrise when they are all sleeping.  I can take the gear as we go on a hike.
      • If you follow me on Instagram you see how I am often in situations where the only camera I have is my iPhone but a lot of the technique and post processing can still be worked on using a phone.  Especially with Lightroom Mobile being as fantastic as it is now.  I am sooo looking forward to upgrading to iPhone 8 so that I can get Raw data finally and improve that part of my photography.


Doodads of the Week!

  • Jeff: Apple Watch and Clear Shot credit card tripod.  Best camera is the one you have with you and I recently had a seriously fun adventure with some friends riding a Razr in the mud.  We were absolutely covered in mud when we were done and wanted to get a photo.  Nobody was around so I used the Clear Shot credit card tripod to setup my iPhone on the hood of a truck and my Apple Watch to trigger it.  Worked super well to get a photo of the group all covered from head to toe in mud and capture a great memory.
  • Brent: My old receipts for my Singh-Ray filters. Breakthrough Photography is doing a 100% buyback. They’ll give you 100% of your purchase price as gift cards to use towards their products. Resin vs glass? A no brainer for me. Singh-Ray has awesome filters, but I’d much rather shoot a glass filter vs. a resin filter. Good for Lee filters too. Only good for GND filters. They’re a bit backed up right now though. Mine is in process and I had to submit it twice as the first time was “lost” in the system somehow. I never got a reply, but I’ve re-upped the request and it’s in process now.

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