Shooting ergonomics for the Apr 8 eclipse

As mentioned previously, we’re headed to Torréon, Mexico for the eclipse. The Sun will be at an altitude of +69.9° during totality - rather high. I’m slightly concerned about ensuring I’m comfortable mounting, positioning and handling the camera at that angle, so plan to do some practice shoots.

I checked out some upcoming dates when the Moon is at the same altitude here in Colorado (the Sun won’t make it that high in this location), using Visual Search in TPE for iOS. The trick is to use a wide tolerance value for the azimuth (I don’t care about that):

There are quite a few dates between now and the eclipse when I can practice shooting an object at that altitude:

We’ll likely start practice this coming weekend!


I don’t know what camera you use, but I find the flipout screen on my Canon R5 to be invaluable for high angle shots like that.



HI Dave - absolutely. I recently traded in all my old gear to upgrade to a Nikon Z8 and that was one of the reasons. The old D800 didn’t have an adjustable screen.

Here’s the angle I need to be shooting at (measured using the altitude gauge in the AR screen in TPE for iOS):

Still need to check my tripod height and shooting position - I’m on the tall side and so being able to see the screen clearly may be a challenge without extending the tripod or sitting down. It’s all going to affect the packing list!

Yikes, that is steep! I guess that is the trade-off for getting the best chance of cloudless conditions in Mexico. I had a similar steep angle in 2017, and even with the flip out screen it was a lot of work to keep adjusting the view to chase the sun. This year I am going to have the camera mounted on a star tracker to do most of the work to follow the sun. I expect to still have to make minor adjustments as the day progresses, but I can use nudging controls on the tracker itself rather than have to loosen the tripod head. In my dry runs so far that has worked out quite well.


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I will be running two cameras mounted on an AM3 EQ mount. I loaded my location (Mazatlan) and the time of the eclipse to make sure the cameras were usable at that elevation.

If you are using an EQ mount for the eclipse, be aware that the mount will go thru the Meridian somewhere between C3 and C4. Some mounts will try to do a Meridian flip or simply stop at the Meridian. Need to test your mount!

Which tracker will you be using?

A Star Adventurer 2i.

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No worries for Meridian Flip, then

Nope. I have already been doing dry runs tracking most of the day. A little periodic error on RA, but pretty good on dec when I get PA right, the night before.


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Sun and Moon, from today’s eclipse shooting practice.

The Sun was shot around 2pm here in Boulder, CO at ~+33° altitude. Baader film filter, recolorized in Lightroom (I’ll post the as shot colors in the comments below).

The Moon was shot just before 6pm, at an altitude of ~+69° - very high in the sky, just as it will be on eclipse day at our location.

I learned a few things:

  • yes, the camera screen will fold out far enough for me to see it even with the camera angled so high
  • confirmed that autofocus worked very well indeed in both scenarios
  • I accidentally left exposure comp set to -1.67EV and didn’t discover it until looking at the metadata in Lightroom. It didn’t affect the final shots, but beware if you’re dialling in pre-planed exposures - I was metering and adjusting as needed.

More practice is planned!