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The view of a 93.8% solar eclipse from Sandstone Ranch in Longmont, Colorado. These photos were taken from 10:23 AM MDT – 1:14 PM MDT. The center of this image is the peak of 93.8% of the sun obscured at 2017-08-21T11:47:39-06:00.

Gear

eclipse camera setup (the big blurry spot is a scratch on the lens of my Nexus 5x)
eclipse camera setup (the big blurry spot is a scratch on the lens of my Nexus 5x)
  1. Nikon D610 - full-frame DSLR that I’ve had for a few years
  2. Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II - longest lens I own
  3. Nikon Auto Focus-S FX TC-20E III 2x Teleconverter - gave me an effective 400mm focal length
  4. iOptron SkyGuider Pro - this canceled out the motion of the earth relative to the sun, so didn’t have to worry about constantly realigning my camera.
  5. Thousand Oaks 77mm threaded mylar solar filter
  6. ThinkPad x230 acting as a shitty intervalometer

“Software”

(notice the quotes)

I used my ThinkPad x230 as a shitty intervalometer rather than my x220 as I have no faith in the battery life of the x220. I really thought this was my PocketCHIP’s time to shine, but gphoto2 was pretty out-of-date. Updating to stretch proved to be a bad time, as one might expect. I used gphoto2 to take 7 pictures every 4(ish) minutes at different exposures using a bash script I wrote:

#!/usr/bin/env bash

starttime="$(date +%s)"

# 4 Minutes intervalometer
sleeptime=$(( 4 * 60 ))

gphoto2 --camera='Nikon DSC D610' --set-config autoiso=1

while /bin/true; do
    # Shutter delay 1s to avoid mirror-up shake
    gphoto2 --camera='Nikon DSC D610' --set-config d06a=2
    gphoto2 --camera='Nikon DSC D610' --set-config f-number=f/8 \
        --set-config capturetarget=1 \
        --set-config shutterspeed=0.005 \
        --set-config iso=100 \
        --set-config imagequality=3 \
        --trigger-capture
    sleep 1

    # Turn off shutter delay
    gphoto2 --camera='Nikon DSC D610' --set-config d06a=3
    gphoto2 --camera='Nikon DSC D610' --set-config f-number=f/8 \
        --set-config capturetarget=1 \
        --set-config shutterspeed=0.00125 \
        --set-config iso=100 \
        --set-config imagequality=3 \
        --trigger-capture
    sleep 1

    # Shutter delay 1s to avoid mirror-up shake
    gphoto2 --camera='Nikon DSC D610' --set-config d06a=2
    gphoto2 --camera='Nikon DSC D610' --set-config f-number=f/11 \
        --set-config capturetarget=1 \
        --set-config shutterspeed=0.005 \
        --set-config iso=100 \
        --set-config imagequality=3 \
        --trigger-capture
    sleep 1

    # Turn off shutter delay
    gphoto2 --camera='Nikon DSC D610' --set-config d06a=3
    gphoto2 --camera='Nikon DSC D610' --set-config f-number=f/11 \
        --set-config capturetarget=1 \
        --set-config shutterspeed=0.00125 \
        --set-config iso=100 \
        --set-config imagequality=3 \
        --trigger-capture
    sleep 1

    # Shutter delay 1s to avoid mirror-up shake
    gphoto2 --camera='Nikon DSC D610' --set-config d06a=2
    gphoto2 --camera='Nikon DSC D610' --set-config f-number=f/11 \
        --set-config capturetarget=1 \
        --set-config shutterspeed=0.02 \
        --set-config iso=100 \
        --set-config imagequality=3 \
        --trigger-capture
    sleep 1
    gphoto2 --camera='Nikon DSC D610' --set-config f-number=f/8 \
        --set-config capturetarget=1 \
        --set-config shutterspeed=0.125 \
        --set-config iso=100 \
        --set-config imagequality=3 \
        --trigger-capture
    sleep 1
    gphoto2 --camera='Nikon DSC D610' --set-config f-number=f/8 \
        --set-config capturetarget=1 \
        --set-config shutterspeed=0.5 \
        --set-config iso=100 \
        --set-config imagequality=3 \
        --trigger-capture
    sleep 1

    sleep $sleeptime
done

endtime="$(date +%s)"
totaltime=$(( endtime - starttime ))
echo "Total time: $totaltime"

Overall I was happy with this setup. You can see sunspots in each of my images fairly clearly. So what changes for the 2024 eclipse? Longer lenses never hurt anyone: I wasn’t a huge fan of the teleconverter and I felt that I lost some sharpness. I’m also not sure that I didn’t lose some sharpness with my solar filter, too.

EXIF
ExposureTime 1/200
FNumber 8.0
Description The view of a 93% solar eclipse from Sandstone Ranch in Longmont Colorado.
Title Solar Eclipse
FocalLength 400.0 mm
CreateDate 2017-08-21 10:17:27
GPSLongitude -105.037979
Lens 70-200mm f/2.8
ISO 100
GPSLatitude 40.152786
Model NIKON D610
Make NIKON CORPORATION
GPS Link View in OpenStreepMap