Great American Eclipse 2017 Photo

Great American Eclipse

Whether you were able to photograph it, watch a live stream of it or catch it in person, the Great American Eclipse was a breathtaking event. The coast-to-coast total solar eclipse began in Oregon at 10:15 a.m. PST, traveling across the country to coastal Charleston, S.C. at 2:49 EST.

Contributor Editor William Sawalich, who’s based in St. Louis, decided to attempt some eclipse photography only a few hours before the event. He set up at the western outskirts of the city, where he witnessed 100% totality for a minute and 40 seconds. He shot the image with a Canon EOS 5D Mark III, an EF 70-200mm ƒ/2.8 lens and a 1.4x tele-extender.

Here’s how Bill captured the image. “I manually focused on an object in the distance and set my camera on the tripod in the shade, pointed vaguely up in the direction of the sun. I didn’t have a solar filter because, frankly, I wasn’t planning on shooting it. But at the last minute I felt like I wanted to give it a shot. So, I waited until the last moment before totality when I pulled out the rig into the sun and used Live View to compose as totality was beginning. Then it was just a matter of firing off a few frames and adjusting the exposure until it looked right. I wanted to be at a sharp aperture, so I chose ƒ/11. I didn’t want too much noise, so I kept the ISO to 1250, and the shutter speed was 1/30th. I think it’s actually a touch overexposed because there’s not much detail in the corona. But it sure looks a lot like what I saw with my naked eye—and certainly not bad for a plan that commenced just a couple of hours earlier.”

Bill’s description of the celestial event: “Supremely beautiful.”

If you missed this one, the next total eclipse will be visible to a large portion of the South Pacific and parts of South America on July 2, 2019. You’ll have to wait until April 8, 2024, for the next total solar eclipse over the United States, which will begin in Mexico before moving into Texas through to upstate New York and Maine and then through parts of Canada east to Newfoundland.

You can see more of William Sawalich’s photography at

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