Podcast: Photographing and Viewing the 2017 Solar Eclipse


On August 21, 2017 there will be a total solar eclipse passing across the United States from the northwest to the southeast. While the path of totality will be in the center of the country, at least 60% obscuration will be seen throughout the U.S. and into Canada and Mexico. This is a historic event and millions of people will be viewing and photographing it. On today’s episode, we will discuss the what, when, and where of the eclipse and concentrate on the best and safest ways to view and photograph it.

Joining us for this discussion are Senior Staff Writer Christopher Witt, our in-house telescope and optics expert, and B&H Photography Podcast veteran Todd Vorenkamp, who will explore the best ways for novices as well as experts to view and photograph the eclipse. After a break, we welcome noted astronomer and photographer Dr. Tyler Nordgren who will offer his thoughts on the eclipse and explain why it might be best to not photograph this eclipse. Finally, we will be joined by Dr. Laura Peticolas from the Space Sciences Laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley. Laura will discuss her plans for the eclipse, specifically discussing the Eclipse Megamovie project, a crowd-sourcing effort to collect and share images across the path of totality. Join us for a multi-faceted conversation about this once-in-a-lifetime event.

Guests: Dr. Tyler Nordgren, Dr. Laura Peticolas, Christopher Witt, Todd Vorenkamp

Route of 2017 solar eclipse across United States
Global map of 2017 solar eclipse
The 2013 eclipse as seen from the deck of a four-masted sailing ship racing across the Atlantic Ocean, totality was 42 seconds long. Photograph by Tyler Nordgren
My first eclipse photo that I took in 1999 superimposed on the Hungarian stamp I bought there commemorating the eclipse by showing its path across the country. Photograph by Tyler Nordgren
A petroglyph in Chaco Canyon, New Mexico showing what could be a 1000 year old solar eclipse. Photograph by Tyler Nordgren
A partial phase of an eclipse just a minute or two before totality in the Faroe Islands. Those clouds totally socked us all in 30 seconds before totality so we saw nothing. Photograph by Tyler Nordgren
The 2012 partial solar eclipse in San Diego, California with approximately 76% obscuration. Photograph by Todd Vorenkamp
The sun photographed with a 50mm lens on a full frame camera with Mylar white light solar filter. Photograph by Todd Vorenkamp
The sun photographed with a 300mm lens on an APS-C sensor camera with Mylar white light solar filter. Photograph by Todd Vorenkamp
The sun photographed with a 300mm lens on APS-C sensor camera using a DayStar Camera Quark Hydrogen-alpha filter. Photograph by Todd Vorenkamp
Photographing the sun with a 300mm lens on APS-C sensor camera using a DayStar Camera Quark Hydrogen-alpha filter and iOptron Sky Guider Pro Tracking Mount
Mylar white light filter. Photograph by Todd Vorenkamp
Digiscoping with iPhone and Skywatcher Virtuoso Telescope with Motorized Mount and Carson HookUpz 2.0. Photograph by Christopher Witt
Prime-focus solar photography through a Sky Watcher Maksutov-Cassegrain telescope with Canon DSLR, on Sky Watcher Virtuoso motorized mount. Photograph by Christopher Witt


Host: Allan Weitz
Senior Creative Producer: John Harris
Producer: Jason Tables
Executive Producer: Lawrence Neves


Can't people read anymore?  This sort of presentation is a terrible waste of time, very, very inefficient, and does not come up to B&H's traditional standards.  Opinions on whether cars blow horns, indeed!

Really helpful information.  Thanks, guys.

I am all in for the eclipse. This was an informative podcast. I have been planning for the eclipse.

Todd, you have a hovercraft? That's cool! You're Bubba Watson awesome!

In 1994, I was in Cedar Rapids, IA when there was a partial eclipse. Some taped sheets of paper with a pinhole punched on the windows and drew the outline of the sun projected on paper on a desk.

Film photography? Okay, I'm one of those; I'll be shooting Infrared film, B&W and color; B&W will be loaded in my Canon A-1 and color in my Canon New F-1. I'll also be shooting with my Canon 5D Mk III and I will set it up for bracketing. I have an IR remote for A-1/F-1 Motor Drives, a cable release for the other FD, and a wireless for the 5D.

Does Alan have any recommended B&W contrast filters for B&W IR or for color IR film?

Photograph or not? I've had a 30 year old bucket list item to watch a Space Shuttle launch. Finally, I was able to watch and photograph Atlantis and the "Final Four" in July 2011. I didn't spend my entire time behind the viewfinder for the launch. I stepped back from the tripod and watched Atlantis. I only shot about six frames of the launch of Atlantis. For the landing, I was behind the viewfinder and panning; I needed a faster ISO than 1600 BW400CN pushed), like TMAX 3200 and pushing. Atlantis was the second final flight that I've witnessed.

The local news media is promoting the solar eclipse. Columbia is one of the "ground zero" capital cities.