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May 2012 Solar Eclipse

Unless you've been living under a rock the past week, you probably heard about the annular solar eclipse that happened this past Sunday (May 20, 2012). So, like many of the residents in its path, I headed out with my protective glasses and my camera to witness this amazing event.

Annular Solar Eclipse in Irvine, CA on May 20, 2012Click image for larger version

This was the first solar eclipse I'd ever seen, let alone photographed, so I didn't really know what to expect. Photographing it proved to be a bit tough. It was difficult to not get ghost images and reflections of the sun off the filters and elements inside the camera lens. Also, I had to bring the exposure way down since, you know, I'm looking directly into the sun and all. With the exposure way down, the sky turned black, which kind of made it look like a crescent moon. And even with 8 stops of split ND, there was no way to get a correctly exposed foreground element in the shot. So, in order to execute the picture above, I resorted to one of my least-favorite techniques: digital composite (bleh...).

If you're a regular here on my blog, you know how much I hate combining multiple images using Photoshop. I never do it for my more traditional non-eclipse photos - in fact, this was only the second composite image I've ever done - but the above photo was just physically impossible without either digital manipulation or an 11-stop split ND filter. If I'd had that 11-stop split ND filter that doesn't exist, I could have and would have executed this photo in a single frame without any Photoshop.

But, alas, my only option was to photograph the scene at a correct exposure for the foreground, then photograph the eclipse separately at a much darker exposure. I then overlaid the photo of the eclipse on top of the foreground image and faded the transition between the two images from top to bottom much like a split ND would. The sun is still in the correct spot in the frame and is about the correct size, but all-in-all, it took about 15 minutes of work in the computer to create this image.

And as for the close-up shots of the eclipse, I only had 400mm to work with on my lens. 1200mm would have been nice, but whaddya gonna do?

Overall, the eclipse was beautiful, interesting, exciting and fun to see/photograph. I'm already counting down the days to 2017 when we'll get a full solar eclipse!

Annular Solar Eclipse in Irvine, CA on May 20, 2012

Summer Classes Now Open

My summer photography classes in Irvine
are now open for enrollment!

Landscape Photography
This class is 1 evening per week for 4 weeks. It covers everything from how to shoot in manual, to using filters, to composition, to final output and much, much more. And this class is my one and only class to include a field shoot! This class fills up to max capacity weeks before the start date almost every summer, so sign up soon! - More Info
Date: July 19-Aug 9 on Thursdays from 6:30pm-9:00pm
Max Size: 20 seats
Fee: $99

How to Shoot in Manual Mode
Learn the correct way to shoot in manual mode in this very affordable single-evening seminar. You'll never have to guess at settings again! This class saw sign-ups at almost double max capacity that last time it was offered! Sign up soon! - More Info
Date: Tues, July 10 from 6:30pm-9:00pm
Max Size: 25 seats
Fee: $39

Composition for Dramatic Landscapes
Composition is what will make or break your landscape photographs. Don't get so caught up in the technical stuff that you forget to give due attention to the artistic side of landscape photography. And this class is brand new to Irvine! - More Info
Date: Tues, Sep 11 from 6:30pm-9:00pm

Max Size: 25 seats
Fee: $39

My summer classes almost always fill up to max capacity, so don't wait!
More information and enrollment details
can be found here.

Crystal Cove Sunset

Well, I've been delivering private photography lessons across Orange County like a madman the past couple weeks. This week is showing no signs of letting up either. It's good to be busy!

Sunset in Crystal Cove State Park, CA

For one of the private lessons last week, I took a student (Sheldon of www.aroundthebendphotos.com) down to Crystal Cove State Park to photograph the sunset. This was after a couple previous lessons in which we covered how to shoot in manual mode, how to use filters for landscape photography and more.

Thankfully, nature was kind enough to serve up a fantastic sky with just the right cloud cover to create some color in our sunset. It turned out to be a beautiful evening.

Sunset in Crystal Cove State Park, CA

Sunset in Crystal Cove State Park, CA

For more information on my private photography lessons in Orange County, click here. Or if you're outside Orange County, check out my online photography courses here.