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April 8, 2024

2024 Solar Eclipse

On April 8, 2024 I had my first (and probably last) chance to photograph a total solar eclipse. My house in Grove City, Ohio was just outside the zone of totality by a few miles. I had my choice of heading a bit north or west. The high, thin clouds in the morning forecast looked to be the same in both directions. The deciding factor ended up being the traffic.  I had a clean getaway out of town by getting on I-70 west. Buck Creek State Park, about a half hour drive west in Clark County, had a decent enough sounding period of totality of 2 minutes and 34 seconds. I could have gone further and added another minute or so, but that seemed enough, so I thought. I was wrong and it felt more like 2 seconds.

It was a warm spring day at Buck Creek after a fairly cool and wet stretch. The thin cloud cover wasn't ideal, but it didn't ruin the day. While the Buck Creek State Park and C.J. Brown Reservoir area is a popular birding area, my birding was pretty much limited to listening at the parking lot where I set up. Field Sparrows were especially numerous and very vocal eagerly singing and setting up territories at mid-day when I arrived. Chipping and Song Sparrows, Brown Thrashers and Eastern Towhees were also vocal along with typical woodland species such as Tufted Titmice and Carolina Chickadees. While there I also heard my first Blue-gray Gnatcatcher and Ruby-crowned Kinglet of the season. As the sun became obscured the Field Sparrows became silent and more crepuscular species such as American Robins and Northern Cardinals became the dominant songsters. During totality only the robins sang. The party was over fast. As soon as the sun brightened up a bit again, the Field Sparrows were back at it full blast.

In the photos below I used a Canon EOS R5 for all. In the photos during the partial eclipse I used the Canon RF 100-500L at 500mm with a cheapo solar filter. If I had to do it again I would have spent just a little bit more and  gotten a better filter with a properly fitting screw-in thread. With the cloud cover it probably didn't make any difference like missing out on fine detail, but it was a hassle to get it in place with rubber bands. During the totality I used the EF 600f4 L IS II without any filters. Exposures were all over the place and I did as much bracketing as I could. The final shot here of the diamond ring happened so fast there was no time to do any experimenting. That diamond ring lasted a second, if that, just long enough to press the shutter button without causing serious damage to my eyes and camera. The high clouds were what they were. The totality happened so quickly. There are many things I would do differently if I had a second crack at it, but most of all I wish I could have just savored it a bit longer.