Post photographer offers eclipse tips Print E-mail
Thursday, 03 August 2017
By Tiffany Wood
Public Affairs director

The total solar eclipse of the sun craze has hit Missouri, and many people across the state are looking for ways to take part in, and document, what many are calling a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

On Aug. 21, the total solar eclipse will begin its sweep through Missouri from the northwest corner of the state to Cape Girardeau. Depending on where you are in the state, the eclipse will begin between 11:30 a.m. and noon and continue until between 2:30 and 3 p.m., according to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources’ website.
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Courtesy photo

It will be the first time in a 148 years a total solar eclipse has happened in Missouri, and many people across the state will be trying to capture the perfect image, said Fort Leonard Wood’s lead photographer, Mike Curtis.

“It’s predicted that this total solar eclipse will be the most photographed event in history,” said Curtis, who has been a professional photographer at Fort Leonard Wood for 34 years.

For those looking to capture the “best” photos of this rare event, the Missouri DNR’s website provides a state map that highlights the most “intense viewing areas” for the total eclipse, Curtis said.

Although Fort Leonard Wood is not in the direct path of the total eclipse, the installation, as well as “parts of Missouri farthest from the path, will experience a partial eclipse in which over 92 percent of the sun is covered,” the site stated. The DNR’s map shows the closest location to Fort Leonard Wood where people can view the total eclipse will be in Cuba, Missouri, which is about 50 miles east on I-44.

Both the total and partial will make for good photos but only if you have the right tools and settings, said Curtis, who shared some advice on photographing the eclipse.
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Mike Curtis, lead photographer. Courtesy photo

First, Curtis said, everyone taking pictures or videos of the eclipse should wear safety glasses.

“Never look at the sun without safe solar glasses,” he said.

In addition to a good, safe pair of solar glasses, Curtis recommends using a tripod.

“If you are able to mount your device on a tripod that would be ideal due to the duration of the eclipse, which is approximately two hours,” he said. “You don’t want to stand for 30 minutes or longer holding up your device.”

For phone enthusiasts or those using point-and-shoot cameras to capture the eclipse, Curtis recommends taking video versus pictures.

“A lot of people are going to try take pictures with their smart phones or a point-and-shoot camera and those won’t make good pictures,” Curtis said. Those devices, however, will take a good video of the eclipse, he added.

“A picture on a smart phone or a point-and-shoot camera will only show a little dot but a video will show how the eclipse goes from light to dark to light again,” he said.

When it comes to digital cameras, Curtis suggests using a solar filter since cameras are very sensitive to the sun.

 “If you only want to capture the full-frame sun, you will need a solar filter for your camera, which can be purchased online,” he said. “This filter will protect your camera from the intense light of the sun.”

In addition, Curtis recommends the digital camera’s lens be 200 mm to 500 mm, aperture priority set between F11 and F16, and ISO should be 200.

While the full-sun picture of the eclipse will be the most sought after, Curtis offers a bit of advice for those wanting to dabble in the less popular, but just as visually compelling, landscape solar eclipse photography.

“For landscape, you will not need a filter,” he said. “I recommend the focal length be 70 to 200 mm, aperture priority be between F11 and F16 and if your camera has auto bracketing, use that.”

As a reminder to all photographers that day, Curtis said to take extra SD cards, charge all batteries and use the camera’s live view instead of the eye piece for safety reasons.

“And if you want to capture an image that is worthy of a wall print, take several pictures,” he said.

(Editor's note: Look in the Aug. 24 issue of the GUIDON for Curtis’s favorite photo from the eclipse.)
Last Updated ( Monday, 21 August 2017 )