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Posted September 4th, 2017

Cloud Frowned on the Eclipse

My northern location was well outside the path of totality for the August 21st solar eclipse. With maximum obscuration just under 50%, it wasn’t much of a spectacle to view and even the dimming effect was unnoticeable when drifting cloud cover was constantly changing light levels anyway. But I thought it was worth trying to capture the event with my camera. The cloud threatened to preempt that and it completely obscured the sun for most of the 2 hour duration, though not having a proper solar filter, I would appreciate the filtering effect when thinner clouds let it shine through. That didn’t happen for a significant period around maximum obscuration, but about 20 minutes after maximum I was able to make the exposures for this image. To properly record the extreme brightness range of the scene, including separation of the sun from the immediately adjacent sky to show its eclipsed shape, widely bracketed exposures were required. Three exposures, shot through a 10 stop B+W neutral density filter, were processed in HDR (high dynamic range) software (Photomatix) to produce this result for the sky. I masked in a fourth exposure, made with the filter removed, to optimally reveal the foreground landscape. Though this image shows the scene in a way that I could not see it with my naked eye, it is nevertheless very real. My photographic tools allowed me to experience this phenomenon when my human vision was not capable. Oh, it may be just me, but when I look at this image a certain way I see a frowning face in the clouds, which was my inspiration for the title.
Pentax K-1, Pentax HD D FA 28-105mm f/3.5-5.6 ED DC WR @ 53mm, f/18, ISO 100