So far, all of the images I have shared of the eclipse were taken through my telescope. I hope you have enjoyed them as much as I have. I’m sorry, but probably not. 🙂
As much as I have enjoyed the telescope images, there is something missing in them: a foreground. As a landscape photographer, I cherish a great foreground. A great foreground makes the difference between a work of art and a postcard shot. And, honestly, I’m not very good with foregrounds, so it was important to me to strive for an eclipse image with a foreground.
Eclipse photography presents several challenges with foregrounds. The first problem was the fact that I was in the middle of a 400-acre field on the high plains of Wyoming. This is a location not normally known for its foregrounds. Sure, there was a windmill about a half-mile away, which was a really great idea. Unfortunately, it was just not accessible with my truck and it would be impossible to set up my telescope and the rest of my gear nearby. So I had to scratch the windmill idea. By the way, my buddy Dan nailed a shot of this windmill during totality. Fortunately for me, there were several big round hay bales that I could coopt into a foreground subject. And I love hay bales! The one in the attached image was right next to our camping area!
The next problem with the foreground is complex to explain, but here goes anyway. In order to successfully include a foreground simultaneously with the eclipsed sun, it would require a wide angle lens. This is due to the fact that the sun was relatively high in the sky during the eclipse. I selected a 16 mm lens. This focal length would simultaneously capture the eclipsed sun and the hay bale. Fine. But the problem was that the sun (eclipsed or not) was just a tiny spot in the field of view of a 16 mm lens. The photographers out there will know what I’m talking about! How often do you shoot directly into the sun on a clear day at 16 mm? The sun is merely a speck!
So, to add a dynamic element to my wide-angle shot with the hay bale, I envisioned a sequence of images starting with the partial phases at the beginning of the eclipse, and ending after the partial phases at the end of the eclipse. Of course, totality would be in the middle to add the spice to my image! Finally, I knew I needed to use a solar filter before and after totality, but the filter must be removed during totality. No filter needed to photograph the corona! I used the intervalometer function on my camera to capture images every three minutes starting well before the first contact of the moon with the sun. I made sure to leave the solar filter in place before totality, which resulted in the images of the small orange crescents on the left side of the image. During totality, I quickly removed the filter and captured several exposures of the corona, which also provided suitable exposures for the hay bales in the foreground. After totality, I reattached the filter and let the intervalometer take over again until after the end of the eclipse. This final sequence gave me the images of the small orange crescents on the right side of the image.
Hopefully, all that makes sense. If not, don’t worry. Just enjoy the image knowing that it is a composite of many images taken before, during, and after totality. Note how much the sun moved during the timeframe of the eclipse (just over three hours for entire duration of the eclipse). I like the sense of motion this creates. I hope you do, too!