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Thread: Photographing the Transit of Venus

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    Senior Member Fighting_falcon_51's Avatar
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    Photographing the Transit of Venus

    Hello guys,

    In case you didn't know the Transit of Venus will take place on June 5th.

    During the transit I will be on top of a 4 story building and I am hoping to photograph it, but I don't even know where to start.

    First I assume I'd use my 300mm lens paired with my T2i body and my sturdy tripod, I also assume I will have to pick up some type of solar filter to prevent damage to my eyes and camera sensor.

    But now this is where I'm stumped:
    • Will 300mm be enough? Is it even worth lugging all my gear?
    • Will my camera be safe with the filter on? I don't feel like frying my sensor and pointing the camera directly in the sun scares me.
    • Which settings would be preferable?
    Thanks,
    Ken
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    Senior Member Joe's Avatar
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    Hello Ken,
    Attached is an image taken with my 7D using the 100-400, other than being resized to 1024, it is completely untouched:



    This was taken at ISO100, F 5.6 at 1/800 sec. The transit itself will last a little while, unfortunately here on the East Coast, we will not see it in it's entirety. I have a 77mm Thousand Oaks Solar filter attached to the front of my lens. You have to be extremely careful when imaging the sun, it only takes a fraction of a second to do irreversible harm to your eyes and can damage your equipment. Since the transit is due to occur in the late evening as the sun is setting, you may be able to get away with an ND filter or something similar if you don't already own a true solar filter, as I've taken sunset images in the past without anything other than A UV filter. They are about $60.00, depending upon the size that you need, and you can order them online, however, they may be hard to come by this late in the game.

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    Senior Member Joe's Avatar
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    Here is a link to their website:
    http://www.thousandoaksoptical.com/

    Unfortunately, they are not accepting new orders with delivery prior to the eclipse. You can try Ebay or camera concepts out in Patchogue, they may have them in stock or have the film for you to create your own filter.


    I was very hesitant the first time that I shot the sun, actually the image posted above was one of the few shots that I took the day the filter arrived. I held the filter up to my eye and after seeing it for the first time, I then felt comfortable and showed several others. Other than the sun, everything else appears as it does in the image, completely black, you can't see a thing!
    Last edited by Joe; 05-20-2012 at 10:06 PM.

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    Senior Member Fighting_falcon_51's Avatar
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    Wow, thank you for all the information.

    I'm definitely going to try to hunt down that filter.

    Edit: Wow, after doing some googling they are either all sold out or their prices are jacked. I'll try Camera Concepts.

    If worse comes to worse do you think it will be safe shooting with an ND filter?
    Last edited by Fighting_falcon_51; 05-20-2012 at 10:20 PM.
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    Senior Member Joe's Avatar
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    Here's the same image, cropped and sharpened slightly:


    If you look carefully, you can see some sun spots.

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    Senior Member Joe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fighting_falcon_51 View Post
    Wow, thank you for all the information.

    I'm definitely going to try to hunt down that filter.


    You are very welcome, glad to help.

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    Senior Member Joe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fighting_falcon_51 View Post

    Edit: Wow, after doing some googling they are either all sold out or their prices are jacked. I'll try Camera Concepts.

    If worse comes to worse do you think it will be safe shooting with an ND filter?

    Here is a link to someone selling 2/3 rds of a sheet of solar film if you want to try to make your own:

    http://www.cloudynights.com/classifi...&cat=24&page=1

    I am not 100% sure about the ND filter, I wouldn't use it during the day, however, since the transit is supposed to start in the evening, it might be safe as the sun starts to set. There are different levels of ND filters, I would use one of the darker ones. If going this route, please be careful, maybe take a few quick exposures of 1/800 or faster and see if they are blown out. I have taken images of the sun accidentally at air shows while tracking planes without realizing it, while the image was naturally blown out, it didn't seem to affect the camera or my eyes.


    A #14 welders glass will also safely work.
    Last edited by Joe; 05-21-2012 at 07:43 AM. Reason: note about welders glass

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    Senior Member Fighting_falcon_51's Avatar
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    Well since the filters and mylar are hard to come by I decided to do a DIY with some floppy disk magnetic tape...

    I know it doesn't block out as much light as a typical solar filter but I'm thinking this may do the trick. So what do you think? Does it look like it does the trick? Is this a horrible idea?


    IMG_4994 by Kenneth Pagliughi, on Flickr

    Ugly little thing:


    IMG_5015 by Kenneth Pagliughi, on Flickr
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    Senior Member Derf's Avatar
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    Ken, welding supply stores will have welders glass for the safety shield or or face guard. Should be like $5 or so. You can use this to make a really cheap yet very effective 9-16 stop nd filter. You will have to shoot in raw because unlike an expensive ND filter, it will give you a greenish image.


    If the sun is low enough, f22 at 1/8000 of a sec as the sun is setting will probably give you a great result. Looking forward to this
    The three most common expressions in aviation are, "Why is it doing that?", "Where are we?" and "Oh Crap".

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    Senior Member Joe's Avatar
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    Hello Ken,
    Your image doesn't look that bad, although the close up of the filter appears to have a slit in it. You have to be careful that the opening doesn't become larger as to not introduce too much light and become a concern. You can try the welders glass like Fred mentioned above, they work fine. I bought two pieces from my local hardware store so that others may look as well. While they recommend a #14 or darker, these were #12's as that was the darkest that they had in stock. Since I am friends with the the owners, they had allowed me to take one outside to give it a test and the #12 worked out fine. It is a little brighter than my solar filter, however, it would probably take several months of staring through them to cause any damage. They were only a few dollars each, they only had the two though. So you can try your local hardware store if a welding supply place isn't local to you. There's also a chance that Lowes or Home Depot may carry them, Sears lists them online so that may be another option if all else fails. The transit is supposed to last for seven hours, unfortunately the sun will set here long before that time.

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    Senior Member Joe's Avatar
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    Also Ken,
    If the image appears too bright, you can up your shutter speed to keep it under control. The exif data from your image above is blocked, so I don't know what you shot it at.

  12. #12
    Senior Member Fighting_falcon_51's Avatar
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    Thanks for the replies!

    I did some research on the welders glass and it seems much more effective than my hackjob floppy disk filter. I will I have to see if I can hunt some glass down and then I will probably do a DIY similar to this: http://www.diyphotography.net/use-we...tops-nd-filter

    As far as timing goes, from what I was told by 6:07pm we should start to see Venus on the edge of the the sun and by sunset it should be near half way across.

    As far as settings I was at less than ideal settings for the test shot and ill will have to adjust them properly:

    AV Mode
    300mm
    f/45
    1/200 sec
    ISO 100
    -5 steps
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    Senior Member Mateo's Avatar
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    I shot the 2004 (2005?) Transit with some halfway decent results. Equipment was an Elan IIe with the non-IS, non-L Canon 75-300. Don't remember what film I used, but I was running a lot of Fuji Reala at the time, so that's a good bet. For protection, I used a telescope solar filter, which I happen to have. The filter was obviously much larger than the lens, so I just held it flush against the front of the lens. The camera was on a tripod and I used a remote to fire the shutter. I had the camera compute the exposure, and I don't remember the settings. The pictures came out OK, but the filter is mirrored on both sides and on a few of the shots, the filter mirrored back against something and I got either a double image or the solar disc turned out blue! I would assume it's a tiny refraction caused by not having the filter exactly perpendicular to the focal plane. I used the same method to shoot a partial solar eclipse in 1998, or so, but for that one I used a Minolta SRT-102 with a straight Vivitar 500mm lens.

    One thing to beware of - it's not unheard of for solar filters to crack if they're pointing at the sun for too long, since they absorb a lot of energy. Monitor the temperature of your filter, and if you're resetting between shots or are not actively shooting, turn your rig away from the sun. Have fun - this is the last time any of us will see this event!

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    Senior Member Joe's Avatar
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    Here's an article that was emailed to me:http://www.skyandtelescope.com/commu...149902015.html

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    Senior Member Fighting_falcon_51's Avatar
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    I'm out with my camera and all I see are clouds clouds clouds... dammit steve
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