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Sunspots[Next Page - Cherry Blossoms]
February 29, 2024

The pressure was on for a Leap Year Photo of the Day, and although it seems like just shooting the sun isn't that hard, sometimes there are clouds. I had to wait until mid-afternoon to get a clear shot.

Although filling in this hole on my POD calendar was a big motivation, this shoot also served as a test of new equipment acquisitions prior to the total solar eclipse on April 8, which we will observe in Austin, TX. Since the annular eclipse last year in New Mexico, I have added a glass solar filter and got newer versions of the Canon 100-400mm lens (version II) and 1.4x Extender (version III). Today I took images of the sun with the 6D Mark II camera and 100-400mm lens, with and without the 1.4x extender. I decided that there was no sacrifice in image quality to get more magnification at 560mm (400x1.4), so that is what is posted here.

The next question was which filter would be chosen for Photo of the Day. The orange-ish film filter produces a color that probably is more pleasing than the neutral glass filter, but I'm going with the glass filter because it shows more detail around the large sunspot near the right edge. The image is very gray, but if I increase contrast or lighten it up, some of that detail disappears. So that's intentional. I also have a glass solar filter for my telescope which isn't quite as neutral gray as the new camera filter. But I didn't get the telescope out today and I'm not sure I'm taking it to Texas.

Just for the heck of it I'm throwing in another sunspot image, this one from from April 2003, which would have been shot with that same orange film filter and my 300mm lens with the 2x Extender II. I shot that image while testing out my equipment for the annular eclipse in Iceland a month later.

In my recent equipment purge, I got rid of the 2x because I think there was some loss of image quality and it there were complications with autofocus and f-stops when trying to use it. (These deficiencies were a motivation in getting the big 500mm f4 in 2006, and the 2x never got used after that.) The 2003 image is obviously softer than the images I shot today, which I attribute to both the 2x extender and the 4.1mp camera I had at the time. The two images from today are cropped but not resized, while the pixels from the 2003 image had to be upsized by about 60%. I ended up shooting the Iceland eclipse with my original 100-400mm lens and 1.4x Extender.

Photo of the Day

Also From Today

April 28, 2003

I have mentioned this before, but for 20 years I have had a Coronado solar telescope which shows the sun in much more detail than these camera filters. But I never post any images from it because it is impossible to take images through it. Seems to me that's a design flaw for any telescope. No doubt Coronado (now owned by Meade) sells some high-priced accessory to accomplish this, but instead I just occasionally look through it and don't worry about photography. Similarly, I have decided not to spend the money necessary to take pictures of celestial objects smaller than the sun and moon because it would be a money pit as big as taking up golf or buying a boat. The Webb and the Hubble take much better images than any Earth-bound photographer could ever dream of, and they both cost billions of dollars and took years of development. In contrast, I can take many types of wildlife images that would rival what the pros produce because we have the same equipment. The limiting factor is the human's imagination, not the equipment.

Sept. 25, 2023

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