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Solar Eclipse: "What lens and filter did you use?", "What settings?" and, "

Solar Eclipse Poquoson, Va | Holly Butler Photography

EDIT: To purchase prints, click here. Thank you for your interest!

In Poquoson, Virginia, we were able to see yesterday's solar eclipse at about 87% totality. While it would've been awesome to have seen a total eclipse, the partial eclipse was still pretty awesome! It began at 1:20pm, the maximum totality was at 2:26pm and it ended at 4:05pm here.

I knew I wanted to photograph the eclipse, but I've never owned a zoom lens, aside from the brief time I spent with my first DSLR's kit lens. I didn't want to spend too much money on a lens I wasn't going to use for paid sessions, so I did what I like to do... I typed, "Nikon zoom lens" in ebay's search bar lol. I honestly didn't think I'd find anything under $400, but I searched anyway and I ended up finding quite a few, 80-200mm 4.5-5.6d Nikon lenses for under $60! I usually purchases lenses that work well in low light situations, but this wouldn't be a low light situation. :)

So, I did some research, decided to buy one and scored one for $40, including shipping! FORTY DOLLARS!!!!

The first time I tested this lens, I got pretty decent shots of the moon, even though the lens isn't great in low light:

Knowing how important it was to protect my eyes during the eclipse, I quickly learned that it was just as important to protect my camera, as well. So, back to ebay, I went lol. I found a Daystar brand, folding lens filter, similar to the eyewear I bought and it fit on my lens pretty well, with some tape ;).

I did test the eclipse lens filter on naked light bulbs, just like I did with the glasses we bought and it seemed legit. There was total darkness without sunlight and when I tested it on the sun, it was just like it was supposed to be. The only problem I had was my own mistake; I taped the filter on my lens the day before the eclipse, when my lens was zoomed to 200mm, not thinking about how dark it would be, when looking through my viewfinder. So, I ended up spending quite a few minutes trying to find the sun with my eclipse glasses on and off, without being able to zoom back out to 80mm, with the tape and filter on it lol. Below are 2 behind the scenes pictures, taken by my friends and family, while I was trying to find the sun... thanks guys haha!

Settings: I used the same settings for all of my eclipse shots: 200mm, f/8, 1/3200s, iso800.

Post processing: I did a bulk crop in RAW to blow up each shot, since my max zoom was 200mm, on a full frame DSLR, set to full frame. I also adjusted the blacks in Raw, but didn't do anymore editing, when brought into Photoshop, aside from making the progression composite.

Solar Eclipse Poquoson, Va | Holly Butler Photography
Solar Eclipse Poquoson, Va | Holly Butler Photography
Solar Eclipse Poquoson, Va | Holly Butler Photography

The above shot was the only time the clouds covered the eclipse, from where I was viewing it.

Solar Eclipse Poquoson, Va | Holly Butler Photography

The big question I got, when I posted the above image to social media was, "how did you take this picture?". In short, I didn't haha. This is a composite I made, using 19 of all the shots I took. For my photoshop friends: It was as simple as starting with a super wide horizontal document, filling it with black, dragging each shot to it and changing the layer modes to screen, for each.

After I was asked about prints, I wanted to make the series a standard print and frame size, so I changed it to an 11x17, vs. a 4x17. But, when I did, I didn't like the negative space at the top and bottom, so I simply turned it diagonal.

Solar Eclipse Poquoson, Va | Holly Butler Photography

And, since I liked how my one cloudy image looked, I played with the render clouds filter too (but I did this on my laptop, which isn't calibrated and I don't trust it's brightness... so if it doesn't look good now, I'll fix it on my desktop later).

Solar Eclipse Poquoson, Va | Holly Butler Photography

I also like the idea of having the eclipse series composited over top of the scene where it was shot, so *maybe* I'll go back to Messick Point and grab a shot for a composite, even though it would be unrealistic, since my camera was almost pointed straight up to the sky!

While I wanted to see and capture a total eclipse, an almost dark sky, with stars showing at 2:45pm and bats flying around, it was a great experience to witness and document, in my small hometown of Poquoson. I did, at least hear the crickets chirping, saw the brightness of midday dim to what it's like later in the day, felt the temperature cool and felt the wind pick up at peak totality, which was super cool. :)

Thanks for looking!


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On location portrait photographer, based in Poquoson, Va