Solar Eclipse on Film

This year I plan on photographing the Solar Eclipse using Kodak Ektar 100 colour negative film.   I scanned the internet for a blog or article on film and the solar eclipse but could not find one.  I thought I would venture forth and write one myself for anyone crazy enough to attempt this.

The first choice was what camera to use, that actually came quickly for me as I love my trusty Hasselblad 500CM and decided to use that.  There are many other equally as great film cameras, but I wanted to shoot medium format and the 6X6 aspect ration made all the sense in the world to me.  

Next was the type of lens choice.  i did not have too much extra cash to splurge on this, so  I found a relative cost effective way to get to the size lens I wanted.  To really do a good job photographing the solar eclipse and filling the 6X6 frame I would need something at 500mm to even get into the game.  So i picked up a good used 500mm Tele-Tessar F8 lens and bought a 2x Tele-Convertor to bring it up to 1000mm.  I know this loses me some f-stops, but I thought I would give this a go and see what happened.

Next was the most important piece of all; the filter.  because I wanted to photograph the lead up as well as the total eclipse i was going to need a good quality filter.  For this I used a Star Guy 105-135mm White Light Adjustable Solar Filter.  It cost $79.00 plus shipping and is something I can use again if I ever find myself in the path of totality.  My first Eclipse was in 1999 and I drove with my buddy Chris from Nottingham in the UK to some random little village in Northern France to get the best shot at taking a photograph.  We drove all the way there and when totality happened we had huge clouds wander through and block your view.  Fortunately I managed to pick up a photograph that the ferry driver took on his camera and had developed on the ferry.

This year, clouds and weather permitting I hope to be in the right spot at the right time and not miss the experience.  

Earlier this month I took a test shot with the above set-up and this is what I got: This photograph was taken using the following settings.

F16 @1/60th of a second using a cable release and sturdy tripod.  Be mindful to use mirror lock-up if you have it and be sure to let you camera come to a complete rest before firing the release.

 

 Taken using a Hasselblad 500CM with a 500mm Tele-Tessar and  2xTele-Convertor.  Also used in conjunction with Kodak Ektar 100 Colour Negative film and a Star Guy White Light Adjustable Solar Filter on Tripod with cable release and mirror lock-up enabled.

Taken using a Hasselblad 500CM with a 500mm Tele-Tessar and  2xTele-Convertor.  Also used in conjunction with Kodak Ektar 100 Colour Negative film and a Star Guy White Light Adjustable Solar Filter on Tripod with cable release and mirror lock-up enabled.

 Here's the set-up minus the Solar Filter.  Be sure to use a sturdy tripod as the Sun will be high and  if like me you are tall you will want to the tripod set up at it's highest height.  I also used a really sturdy ball head, but am considering using a 3 axis geared head to eliminate any movement.  

Here's the set-up minus the Solar Filter.  Be sure to use a sturdy tripod as the Sun will be high and  if like me you are tall you will want to the tripod set up at it's highest height.  I also used a really sturdy ball head, but am considering using a 3 axis geared head to eliminate any movement.  

 Here's another I took using my digital SLR and a Tamron 150-600 mm and a 2x Tele-Convertor also.  I used the same filter and got a different look and feel here, much sharper and warmer, but honestly I prefer the result I got from the Kodak Ektar.

Here's another I took using my digital SLR and a Tamron 150-600 mm and a 2x Tele-Convertor also.  I used the same filter and got a different look and feel here, much sharper and warmer, but honestly I prefer the result I got from the Kodak Ektar.

 
 Taken using the Hasselblad 500CM with a 500 mm Tele-Tessar and a 2xTele-Convertor by my youngest son using cable release and tripod.

Taken using the Hasselblad 500CM with a 500 mm Tele-Tessar and a 2xTele-Convertor by my youngest son using cable release and tripod.

Where I am located I am only going to get 58 seconds of totality and have not metered or tested for this, so I will be shooting blind.  All settings I shared on this post are minus the lost f-stops due to the tele-convertors, so please be mindful of that.  I think in conclusion I will be shooting somewhere around F11-16 at either 1/60th or 1/125th of  second with the filter on during the lead up to the total eclipse and then without the filter during my 58 seconds of totality most likely F8 at 1/30th.  I plan on using my digital SLR too and will use the light meter in that to guide my film settings.  

I hope this was somewhat helpful to all you film photographers and that you are successful in your quest to get a shot.  Please ensure you use a safe and quality filter, there are many eclipses all over the world but only one set of eyes...

Have fun and I will share my results on here as a follow up post.

SIncerely

Gary