Leica Solar eclipse

Peter Klein

Dec 31, 2014
Peter Klein
We watched the total solar eclipse in Prairie City, Oregon. Long before we left, I decided that I would not attempt to photograph the eclipse seriously. Since this would be my first experience with totality, I wanted to truly experience it, not spend most of the precious two minutes six seconds of totality fussing with the camera. (See, I know myself). I figured that people much better equipped than me would get the really great totality shots, and I could always look at them later.

Shutterbug sacrilege, I know, but that was my decision and I don't regret it. Totality was an almost transcendent experience, unlike anything I had ever seen before. A partial eclipse pales in comparison to seeing the sun change instantly to something that your modern brain sees as beautiful, and your primitive brain thinks is wrong and scary.

This didn't mean that I didn't photograph at all. I made a plan for totality. I would take one "record shot" with a camera pre-set to twilight/sunset afterglow conditions. Then I would turn around 360 degrees to see any sunset effects on the horizon, look at the general sky and see the brighter stars and planets that had come out, and spend the rest of totality looking at the eclipsed sun through binoculars.

During the rest of the eclipse, I was very relaxed, having fun with the other people who had gathered in the little park just off the town center. Some of them had big-bazooka telephoto lenses, others pinhole devices. One guy had a 1960s style pinhole camera made out of a large Asian grocery box, and spent most of the eclipse with the box over his head. Another made a superb viewer out of a cylindrical steel garbage can, a camera lens and a telescope eyepiece. You could see sunspots with it, but you had to stick your head inside to view things. He also had a badge that claimed he was a Starfleet Temporal Investigator.

I rigged up a simple Rube Goldberg-style solar projector using a pair if cheap Chinese binoculars, a tripod, a music stand and some cut-up cardboard. Every few minutes, I alternately capped each ocular with a piece of wide masking tape so neither side would heat up too much. It made quite a hit, because people could see the image of the sun all the time. People kept asking me if they could take pictures of my contraption, or selfies with it. I was happy to oblige.

So without further ado, here are my informal record shots of the event, culminating in the totality shot. I'm very proud of the latter, as it shows the context and weird light well. Shots with me in them are by my wife, Katya.

The pictures were taken with an Olympus EM-5 and 25 or 20mm lenses for all but totality, where I used a 14mm lens. Enjoy!



Jul 7, 2010
It was mostly cloudy here- but when the Sun came out, stepped out from Lunch to get a good look. Had the NASA issued glasses.


Feb 6, 2013
Great story and setup, Pete. Maybe I'm too cynical, I couldn't bring myself to drive to a location to view it.

Where I am, it was cloudy. We'd see wisps of the eclipsing sun here and there. So thanks for sharing!

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