Alison McMahan  


Transit of Mercury by Alison McMahan

December 2019 - Transit of Mercury

December 2019 - Alison McMahan

Original

About the Image(s)

This was taken November 11, 2019, in Pompano Beach, FL (just north of Fort Lauderdale) on the walk near my house, early in the morning. I've been planning for months to try to photograph the transit of Mercury across the sun, which won't be visible from Earth again until 2032 and not again from where I live until 2049. I read many articles like this one:
https://photographylife.com/landscapes/how-to-photograph-the-mercury-transit
and this
https://expertphotography.com/solar-photography/
and this
http://www.eclipsewise.com/oh/tm2019.html

I've been thinking about how I could photograph it since I first read about it back in January. I had eye protection from the eclipse a couple years ago. I debated investing in a telescope, but that was too expensive. Finally I decided to get an extender (a cheap one, not an expensive Canon one) and a filter for the camera lens. I don't think that filter was strong enough. It's designed more for eclipses. I'd heard that the automatic focus on the cheaper extenders doesn't work very well, but since I planned to set it to infinity I figured that wouldn't be a problem.

I took dozens of images, manual, automatic, aperture priority, shutter priority, and following the settings from the articles. It was hard to see what I was doing as my eyes quickly began to sting and water even with all the protection. Later at home I looked at a few pictures, they were either completely black or the sun was overexposed. I knew Mercury was there, but even playing with sliders I couldn't see it.
Just today I realized that in one of my pictures there was a thin veil of cloud in front of the sun. With a little help from sliders I was able to see Mercury there in the 7 o'clock position. So I did get one in the end! I was hoping to get a progression, but I guess one is better than nothing.
If you want to see some better pictures of the transit, go here:
https://mercurytransit.gsfc.nasa.gov/2019/

Tech specs: Canon EOS 5D Mark III, EF100-400mm f/4.5.6L IS II USM Focal length 800mm 1/640 sec f 11 ISO 2500 Normal Program, pattern metering. The filter was HOYA PRO ND100000 77mm. The extender was Telephoto Lens Extender C-AF 2XII Teleplus Auto Focus Tele-Converter Lens for Canon EF Mount Lens n DSLR Camera Sold by: Ebyphan Technology.

 

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