Gearing Up For Solar Photography
Now I suspect a lot of you would love to try a little solar photography someday but are worried about the cost. You may even be looking at the upcoming annular eclipse on May 20th or the Transit of Venus on June 5/6 (depending on which side of the International Date Line you are on) and wish you could photograph it but think you need lots of expensive equipment.
Well, I am not the wealthiest person in the world so I always try and find ways to do things inexpensively. Regular readers know that my camera is a Canon Digital Rebel Xti which can be picked up inexpensively on eBay. I have several lenses I have bought over the years. The two zoom lenses are the Canon EF-S 55-250mm zoom lens and the EF 70-300 USM zoom lens (got used for $90). I use these two lenses for my sunset green flash pictures.
To take a pic of sunspots, a partial eclipse, or the transit of Venus, however, you are going to need a solar filter. You can always buy some solar film and make your own, but a company called Rainbow Symphony makes solar filters ready to go. I have bought a variety of stuff from them over the years and had good luck with them. I bought the 60mm solar filter and it fits over the end of both my lenses like a glove. It even snaps into place like it was built for these lenses.
So I took my camera outside, found the sun and snapped a shot.
Not a lot of action up there today,but you can see the smudge toward the right side which is sunspot 1450. I didn’t do any adjustments to the photo except cropping and took it with all automatic camera settings (with the flash turned off…the camera sees all that dark area and wants to fire a flash!)
So a rather humble beginning, but I am sure I will get somewhat better results as I experiment with manual settings. I will be working with the camera in preparation for the May 20th annular solar eclipse and the June 4th transit of Venus. I am sure many people have comparable cameras and could get interesting photos. Oh, and don’t forget, we are heading toward a probable solar maximum in 2013 so a $10 solar filter is not a bad accessory to buy now!
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