Reef Fish Gallery

Creative Filters for Photography

I have heard it said that the creative filter applications available for phone photography are simply a way to make bad photos look good.

Solar Scope
A solar telescope setup to photograph the total solar eclipse 21Aug2017

I would have to say that these filters are a way to make bad photos look worse.

The web is filled with horrible photos of pets, selfies, and dinner plates, often processed through some creative filter application to somehow make the photo look hip or cool. Sorry, a bad photo is still a bad photo. Often it is far worse for the application of the filter. Fancy colors, brush patterns or mosiacs, it does not matter, it is still just bad.

I am not telling you to uninstall the application, quite the opposite! A well composed photo can be a good photo after application of the filter. You can also use the filter to overcome some limitations of phone photography. Technical defects like color, lighting, and noise are often erased when the filter is applied.

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Moray Gallery

Processing the Eclipse

Processing the frames to produce a deeper view of the solar corona is not easy. This is the best I have achieved so far. You can still see some ring like artifacts where the layers have been merged. I will be working further to improve this, but it may come down to retouching by hand to eliminate the issues.

The image is an HDR merge of five images taken from 1/500 to 1/4sec exposures with the TV-76 and a Canon EOS M5. Extensive corona and a couple prominences can be seen.

Solar Corona
An HDR view of the solar corona from the 21Aug2017 solar eclipse

A Sun Finder

A few years back I posted the design of a Sun finder. With the eclipse looming it is time to highlight that post again. Aiming your telescope or camera at the Sun can be a nuisance. A problem with a really simple solution.

Sun Finder
A Sun finder mounted to a TeleVue 76mm ‘scope
The idea is simple… A pinhole that casts a small dot of light on a target. Line up the dot on the target and the Sun should be neatly in your field of view. Having used these devices many times, it really is that easy, Sun in view in seconds.

Sun Finder
A sun finder in use with the projected dot visible
My version is a custom machined part made from aluminum and plexiglass. In a crush a similar item can be made from cardboard and tape with a pair of scissors, and probably function just as well.

I would suggest light cardboard, the type used in a cereal box, and some masking tape that will peel clean off your telescope or camera. Just line up the telescope once and mark the dot of light’s position with a pen… Done.

The Eclipse Plan

With a little short of two minutes of totality I need to go into this with a plan. I do want a few photos, but I also want to experience the eclipse. How do I balance that?

Hodgepodge
Hodgepodge setup on the side of Mauna Kea with the TV-76mm and Telrad on the plate
The important bit here is that I am going to give myself time to simply enjoy the eclipse and not spend the whole time futzing with the camera gear. When totality begins I will simply sit back and watch. To that end I have thought through a shot plan that may just accomplish this balance.

The plan calls for three cameras… A single camera on a solar telescope, this will be primarily run on automatic with an intervalometer. I just need to check focus and centering of the solar image periodically during the long partial phases. I will use part of totality to attend to this camera and take a deep corona photo.

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