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Sunday, June 10, 2012

Attempting to shoot the transit of Venus

After reading a post on Kevin Adams blog about the upcoming transit of Venus, I wanted to give it a try. I had only a day to prepare for the event and the weather forecast wasn't looking very good(mostly cloudy with chance of rain). Luckily the clouds broke just capture the rare event. The transit was to occur late day starting a couple hours before sunset. 

Oh, for those wondering what the heck is the transit of Venus, here's a short explanation: When a planet, in this case Venus, passes directly between the Sun and Earth becoming visible against the solar disk. During the transit Venus will appear as a small black dot moving across the face of the Sun.

Photographing such an event isn't your typical photo shoot. The objective was to capture a sunstar and the silhouette of Venus with other elements in the scene. Typically these celestial events are photographed using either telescopes or long telephoto lenses. Kevin wanted to see if he could capture something a bit different from the usual closeup of the sun with a tiny black dot on the surface. So following his suggestion I went out in open field and pointed my camera towards the sun then pressed the shutter button.

What was the end result? I got some nice sunstars, but not with the Venus silhouette or so I thought. I took 102 shots and nothing...until I looked closer at my images on the computer. Below is my first shot. See any planetary black spots? Nope.

                                                                           sunstar @ 22mm F/25, 1/3200s, ISO 320

I knew I wasn't going to get the effect I was looking for until I zoomed in magnifying the sun in the composition. BUT, doing so would completely brightout the photo unless there was something that would shade the full brightness of the sun. Call in the clowns.. I mean clouds.

Clouds were moving in and out during the shoot at times blocking the sun from view. For a brief moment a thin veil of clouds moved in front of the sun, but it wasn't enough to completely block it from view. It was at this point I got a couple shots that may show Venus as a dot on the face of the Sun. Problem was I couldn't see it on the LCD. I would have to wait until I viewed them on the computer to know for sure. Below is a image I took when the clouds partially blocked the sun.

                                                          Venus transit @ 85mm F/25, 1/500s, ISO 320

Once on the computer I viewed the images full screen. YES! I did get the transit, but you can't see it in the whole image. Time to use the virtual scissors. Below is the cropped photo from the same image above.

                                                                        Cropped image of Venus transit

These conditions quickly changed and all the other shots I took afterwards didn't turn out at all. In fact about 6 minutes later clouds completely covered most of the western sky. This wasn't the shot I was expecting to get, however, I'm pretty pleased with recovering something from this rare event. A hundred years from now I'll try again.

This is my first blog post since 2010. I have been out on the trail exploring, but found using blogger a bit of a pain so instead I just posted pics on my web galleries. However, I decided to start posting here again my adventures since you can't really give lengthy details under a image caption. 

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North Carolina, United States

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