With three weeks to go until the 2017 total solar eclipse, I’m preparing and testing all my equipment for the day. I was gifted a 62mm solar filter for my camera, and I have a camera with a 62mm focal length – my 19mm f/3.8 Vivitar lens.
So yesterday, I tested out my equipment. Went outside, put the solar filter on my camera, aimed at the sun, and shot. Bang.
Well, we know that the solar filter works, that picture was shot at nearly f/8 and all we have a is a yellow dot. Great. Just what I want.
That’s just a yellow dot.
That’s not going to show me any definition of an eclipse. It’ll look like a tiny dot all the way to totality and back.
That’s not an eclipse… that’s going to be more like an ellipsis.
Crap. Three weeks to go and I could be making the biggest photography mistake possible.
I quickly scrambled through my assortment of lenses. Here’s a “nifty fifty” from a long time ago, back when I was buying Russian glass on a regular basis because it was cheaper than getting Nikon glass.
But the filter mount on this nifty fifty is 52mm. The solar filter I have won’t fit on it.
Damn it, damn it, damn it.
Come on, Chuck, think of something. You can’t photograph this eclipse without a solar filter or you’ll roast your camera sensor. You ever take a magnifying glass in the sunshine and roast an ant’s head? Same thing.
No way can I get another filter. The company that manufactures the filters is completely swamped with back orders.
Then it occurred to me.
The screw-on filter is threaded for a 62 millimeter mount.
My Russian glass lens has a 52 millimeter mount.
If I can find a way to bridge the gap…
Ding. Lightbulb just went off over my head.
A quick trip to the Photo Center of the Capital District, and a quick consultation with my bud Nick Argyros. Nick not only runs the Photo Center, he’s got drawers and drawers of parts and filters and other accoutrements.
And after a quick conversation, Nick went to one of his file cabinets. He returned with three metal rings.
“These will work for you,” he said. “They’re step-up rings.”
Some people, so as to not purchase different sized filters for their various lenses, often purchase the biggest filter and then use step-up or step-down rings to attach those filters to their lenses. Economy.
The first ring he brought me was a 52-55mm step-up ring. He then attached a 55-58mm step-up ring, and finally a 58-62mm step-up ring.
Perfect. More flexibility. After much thanks and a quick donation to the Photo Center, I tested out the camera again – this time, by attaching my old Russian 50mm f/2 HELIOS-81 glass to my Nikon Df.
And this came out.
Now for a little post-processing, and this came out.
Now this still may look like a tiny dot, but my plan is to photograph the eclipse – from start to totality to finish – and capture the stages in sequence, and stitch everything together. And with this post-processing on the photo, I can get sunshine and solar flare and eclipse all at once …
Those step-up rings really worked. Thanks to Nick Argyros and the Photo Center of the Capital District for a saving move. Awesome.
Now to get everything else ready. I only have three weeks to prepare for this trip, and I CANNOT leave anything to chance.
Not one single thing.