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Photographers from near and far preparing to capture the eclipse


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Night sky at Glacier National Park, taken by Sonja Yearsley, who is traveling to eastern Idaho to photograph the eclipse.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is the seventh in an ongoing series about preparations for the full solar eclipse on Aug. 21 is eastern Idaho.

IDAHO FALLS — When it comes to the eclipse on Aug. 21, many viewers will simply pull out their smartphones to snap photos of the momentous event. Amateur and professional photographers, however, have already been scouting locations, figuring out which equipment they need to bring, and how to get the best shots of the eclipse.

Steve Spring, vice president of the Eastern Idaho Photographic Society and also a member of High Desert Photographers, said local photographers have been preparing for a while now. They’ve invited speakers like Jim Vail, a member of the Idaho Falls Astronomical Society and an experienced eclipse photographer, to offer seminars to the two groups. These seminars teach local photographers about the best equipment to have ready and also the best methods for shooting, such as proper ISO and other technical considerations.

RELATED: Total solar eclipse bringing experts and learning opportunities to eastern Idaho

At the seminar, Vail urged members to practice ahead of time by photographing a series of photos of the moon; this would help each photographer determine different settings and best ways to focus using their specific camera. He also recommended using a telephoto lens for the eclipse shots (200 to 800 mm).

Sonja Yearsley, a professional photographer from Kennewick, Washington, shooting at the Grand Canyon. She plans to photograph the eclipse in Eastern Idaho. | Courtesy Sonja Yearsley.

One of the most important pieces of equipment that serious photographers need are special lens filters to protect their cameras. “I got my lens filters on Amazon,” Spring said. “Let me stress, it’s very important you get them from a reputable source. Pointing your camera at the sun is like taking a magnifying glass to your lens. Reputable filters block those UV rays.” He added that photographers must also wear eclipse glasses at all times, except during totality.

A tripod is also essential for the serious photographer, especially for time lapse photography. Spring also said that a lot of professional and amateur photographers are likely bringing at least one telephoto and one wide angle lens/camera to capture different types of eclipse shots.

RELATED: 10 things that will likely happen in east Idaho on eclipse weekend

“I’m going to have two cameras: a Nikon D7000 and a Nikon D200. The telephoto will be for totality — I’ll take the filter off for those few minutes, and then I’ll put the filter back on. For the wide angle, I’ll probably have it on time lapse; I’ll use landscape as a sense of scale, and shoot multiple positions since the sun and the moon move across the sky.”

Since photographers want to get the best possible photos, they are willing to go just about anywhere to get them; however Spring said they learned in their seminars to make sure they have access to all the necessary comforts, since they’ll likely spend several hours at the location and will not want to leave. Spring plans to go to Menan Buttes to shoot.

Like other members of local photograph groups, Steve Spring, vice president of the Eastern Idaho Photographic Society, has been prepping to capture the eclipse. | Photo courtesy Denise Spring.

RELATED: If you’re hoping to see the eclipse, remember to protect your eyes

Sonja Yearsley, a professional photographer from Kennewick, Washington, is traveling to Idaho specifically for the eclipse and plans to shoot in or close by Rexburg. “I haven’t decided on the perfect spot yet, but I’ll go a few days in advance to scout locations,” she said.

“I’ve always been fascinated by space and an eclipse isn’t something that happens often in our area so naturally, I’m excited to see it for myself and share the experience with my family.”

Besides the eclipse itself, she’s interested in capturing the area and people around her, as the eclipse is also about the people watching it.

“I plan to have a second camera to photograph the people around me and a video camera rolling to record reactions, shadow anomalies, etc. I’m most interested in the landscape aspect and the people. There are millions of eclipse pictures, but combining it with landscape or people will make it more unique and fun for me.”

She plans to share her photos on social media, add them to her website, and perhaps offer some for sale.

For those planning to photograph the eclipse with a smartphone, check out NASA’s photo tips for smartphones.

For those planning to photograph the eclipse with a bigger camera, check out tips from Mr. Eclipse.