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Shooting A Partial Solar Eclipse

Published : 9th November 2009


I'm thinking of shooting the partial solar eclipse on August 1st. Of course this wasn't in the script to begin with , but I thought it might add to my character's awkward journey. In any case, in Poland (where I'm living at the time) the eclipse will only be partial and I want to know if any of you has had experience shooting time lapse of eclipses. I will probably use and Arri 2C with a time lapse motor. I need advice in terms of what kind of filters I should use as well as how to position my camera to make up for the sun's movement, and of course, if you know how the effect of the eclipse looks like when it's only partial.

Any comments are greatly appreciated.


Nicolas Villegas H.
dir ph
Lodz Poland



Millar is the standard Eclipse filter. Normally produced in a resin and scratches very easily. However you won't see the scratches since everything apart from the sun is BLACK. Edmund scientific might be a good source for this depending on lens size.


www.edmundoptics.co.uk


Kodak manufactures a Wratten in 4.0 ( 13.1 stops)
Otherwise depending on your lens B+W manufactures a 3.0 (10 stops) ND up to 77mm round, plus Schneider & Tiffen are now producing ND 2.1 (7 Stops).


These are your stopping down options, and may vary due to cloud cover.


The problem with the eclipse is no second chance till next time and of course weather !!!


Good Luck.


Carey Duffy
Managing Director
Kinomatik Ltd & South London Filter Ltd
3 Richborne Terrace
London SW8 1AS
Tel / +44 (0)20 7735 1900
Fax / +44 (0)20 7820 1718
www.kinomatik.com
www.camerafilters.co.uk



Nicolas Villegas writes:


>>I'm thinking of shooting the partial solar eclipse on August 1st.


I imagine that after you've added enough ND to get rid of any flare, you'll end up with something you can do at least as well in post, using an inverted lumakey of the sun itself (to simulate the moon) and keyframing its motion across the face of the original sun clip.


If you want to shoot some of your main action during the eclipse, why not focus on the action and the quality of the sunlight, which is like nothing else. Look for shadows of trees, which may have little crescent-shaped points of light in them, depending on the depth of the eclipse.


Dan Drasin
Producer/DP
Marin County, CA



>> I'm thinking of shooting the partial solar eclipse on August 1st...


I worked on a film "The Great Eclipse", during the total solar eclipse in Mexico in 1992. We had 2 16mm doc units and one 35mm motion control unit. We all had Mylar solar filters for shooting directly into the sun before and after totality. However, during totality the corona can be photographed without any special filtration. It's visible to the eye and we shot during totality with just the 85/ND filters appropriate to the (quite!) reduced illumination on the ground.


The Mylar solar filters are very tricky and require testing to be used effectively, but they are quite inexpensive. They are very delicate as well. I don't know where you can find a copy of that film but it might help.


Rod Williams
Motion Picture and HD First Camera Assistant
Petaluma, California
U.S.A.
(707) 778-7524 Home
(415) 309-3407 Cell



Rod William wrote :


>>I worked on a film "The Great Eclipse", during the total solar eclipse in Mexico in 1992...........
>>I don't know where you can find a copy of that film but it might help.


Will Lynman, the film's narrator is still active and is on SAG's Board of Directors, he might know where you can get a copy. See if they'll rely a request for information on video availability.(Caveat: All this is from IMDB.pro but I did look on SAG's website and he's definitely currently on their board).


Hal Smith
Engineer and Somewhat DP
Edmond, OK



>>I imagine that after you've added enough ND to get rid of any flare, you'll end up with something you >>can do at least as well in post, using an inverted lumakey of the sun itself (to simulate the moon) and >>keyframing its motion across the face of the original sun clip.


I'm shooting this on 35mm and going straight to a print. no di, no luma key, no tracking. at the most I might photograph and then rephotograph the stills (a bit of a pain in the ass, but not the first time). it's old school, but I didn't even have this in the script, just learned about the eclipse during breakfast last Saturday.


>>If you want to shoot some of your main action during the eclipse, why not focus on the action and the >>quality of the sunlight, which is like nothing else.


As far as I know from a previous partial eclipse I saw (the other one I can remember was a total) there wasn't a big change in terms of lighting. that being said, this was a few years ago and I didn't pay attention to the shadows. I don't follow very well what you mean with "little crescent-shaped points of light in them". like spotted shadows, like when going through the forest on a sunny day? anyways, as someone mentioned before I’ll have to wait another year for it and in any case I can shoot during the eclipse only the eclipse, an perhaps some details. for that day I have no actor and the actual location is not close by either.


Anyways, thanks for your advice, perhaps you can tell me more about this spots of light 'cause they interest me.


Nicolas villegas
dir ph
lodz Poland



>>I'm thinking of shooting the partial solar eclipse on August 1st.


This was a total eclipse of the sun I will refer to.


I remember our old building having rooftop turbines for ventilation. It made for one of the most interesting observations out of all the setups that day. We must have had 4 or 5 setups including the owner of the business Next door with a monster telescope\video assist, tracking a perfect path. Being in the heart of Hollywood, there were several ways that everyone involved came up with to observe. There was Mylar, NDs stacked front and rear, Reflected, refracted, retracted.....Sorry about that last one, Too much time in the biz.....


Anyway, I guess My point is that The more natural path to observation of the eclipse, full or partial might be better in Nature, being thru a vent or shaded tree line... ect.ect. Look down, not up, or maybe somewhere in-between.


You might find a better subject to photograph[easier and safer]. At the least, for insert shots.
Yes, it was such a great event, nothing got done that day as far as work.


Stacy Strode
Lens\Camera techFilm\video
Hollywood
P.S I think it's time to put on some PINK FLOYD.



This was the most striking thing for me, during the last partial eclipse on the East Coast.


It's the same phenomenon as the (out-of-focus) highlights on film (like streetlamps or car headlights or even candle flames) that take on the shape of the lens iris (hexagon, octagon, etc.)
I took some eclipse stills through three ND9 filters, and looked directly (but briefly) at the eclipse through the same three ND9s, with no ill effects.


Doug Hart
1AC, NYC



Rod Williams writes :


>>during totality the corona can be photographed without any special filtration.


True but a *partial* eclipse is completely different, and must be photographed as if it were no eclipse at all.


Nicolas Villegas writes:


>>I don't follow very well what you mean with "little crescent-shaped points of light in them". like >>spotted shadows, like when going through the forest on a sunny day?


That's the idea. The crescent shape of the sun during a partial eclipse will tend to project little crescents of light through the rough "pinhole lenses" formed by the tree foliage. When the degree of eclipse is just right, the effect is quite startling.


Dan Drasin
Producer/DP
Marin County, CA



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GAVbNXTQDmY


I did this Transit of Venus on my S35mm Mitchell using the Mylar filter.


http://www.telescopehouse.com/


I shot it on HP5 black and white stock and coloured it later. I have my own timelapse motion control which I used in an equatorial mount position. If you track it X and Y then the sun will rotate in the picture.
The lens was a 600mm mirror lens with 2 X refracting doubler... i.e. 1200mm. You can just see some of the light cloud that passed during the day. It was shot over a period of six hours and at the time I shot almost the whole 400ft roll. I shortened it even more for YouTube.


It's a bit rough on the middle because of a power failure, I was running off mains from a neighbour next to the park. Unfortunately someone decided to make a cup of tea and forgot my lead. It was not funny at the time but it taught me not to rely on mains.


Several years ago I shot the total Eclipse of the Sun in Cornwall for Tacita Dean. I had a crew of four camera operators shooting all the associated natural events whilst I tracked the sun on a 500mm anamorphic lens. We used anamorphic lenses with 16mm for the whole of the film. Most of the eclipse was clouded over but towards the end of the eclipse the cloud thinned out and I rode the stop. It was magical, this was not timelapse but 24fps.


If that happens to you it will be the luckiest break you'll get. But be ready with the Mylar filter by making it easy to take off and put on. If you judge it right and there is no cloud then can whip the filter off for totality (oops forgot it not a total) and the diamond ring.


Anything else please ask


John Adderley DOP UK
www.adderley.net