Eclipse Chasing 2017 - Rev 2 | Active Light Photography | Photo Tours to Hidden Destinations, Anasazi Ruins
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“No plan survives contact with the enemy.” – Field Marshall Helmuth von Moltke

These words are still very true today, over 150 years after Field Marshall von Moltke wrote them.

A Canine Tumor Changes Everything
When our Bernese Mountain Dog Daisy developed a large 9cm x 6cm tumor in one lung with a smaller metastized body in the other lung, everything changed. We and various veterinarians discovered this after weeks of tests to discover what caused a problem with excessive liquid elimination, aka peeing. The specialist who finally made the diagnosis was the only one able to turn lab results around in 24 hours, then give us treatment options besides 20 days of radiation therapy in the next state over.

Daisy smiles with Pat, 2014

Daisy smiles with Pat, 2014

After her first chemotherapy and immunocidin treatments at Veterinary Cancer Care in Santa Fe, Daisy had a lot of her usual energy and appetite back. We also were using ongoing prednisone and feeding cooked protein, fatty oils, rice and complex green carbs – no simple carbs or sugars that feed a tumor – and all of it seems to be helping.

Daisy and Buzz take a break on Cabezon Peak, April 2017

Daisy and Buzz take a break on Cabezon Peak, April 2017

Going Shorter
We’d thought about canceling our eclipse viewing trip with friends in Oregon – we thought it would be too much for Daisy. But when it became clear she was doing well enough to travel in our RV, we changed locations. We could be in either Jackson or Casper, Wyoming in 3-4 days, or in Twin Falls, Idaho in 4 days. We opted for Idaho. I was shocked to find available camping in Saint Anthony, ID near the center line of totality, just three weeks before the eclipse. The site lacks water and electric hookups for our RV, but that’s what propane, a PV solar panel on the roof, and our fresh water tank are for. We’ll also need to pre-cook and refrigerate Daisy’s food.

The Photographer's Ephemeris 3D - the view from Saint Anthony ID on Eclipse Day

The Photographer’s Ephemeris 3D – the view from Saint Anthony ID on Eclipse Day
The dot at upper center right is the eclipsed sun

The long-term weather report for Saint Anthony is for clear skies and a high of 80 degrees F on eclipse day. If nothing changes, it looks like the weather gods may be with me this time. I got rained out on Maui in July 1991 for that solar eclipse.

Preparations – And You Needed To Start Months Ago
Remember – neither you nor your camera can look directly at the sun without damage. You’ll need protection.

In late May, I’d ordered a Thousand Oaks Optical Solar Filter sized to fit my 500mm f/4L IS lens. Even that was a bit late. The order was approved, but I didn’t hear any more from them for a few weeks. So I also ordered a Gosky Optics Full Aperture Astronomical Telescope Solar Filter from Amazon, sized to fit my 400mm f/4 DO IS lens as a backup. And I picked up a 77mm screw-in solar filter to fit my 70-200mm f/2.8L IS lens just in case. We also ordered a bunch of the cheap eclipse-viewing glasses. (I made a filter out of a pair of them for my 70-200mm f/2.8 zoom during the Venus solar transit in 2012.) And I also ordered an 8″x 8″ piece of solar film to make my own filters if necessary.

500mm f/4L IS (right) and 400mm f/4 DO IS with solar filters

The Filters Arrive In Time
As it turned out, both large solar filters arrived, so I won’t need to make my own. And I lucked out with the Thousand Oaks filter. The Full Aperture (Solarlite) S-6500 filter fit my 500mm lens hood just right with the supplied felt installed. The Gosky filter has three screws to hold it in place over the smaller 400mm hood, but it fit well too. Thousand Oaks has been making solar filters for many years, with a good reputation for safety and quality. On the other hand, I’d never heard of Gosky before placing my order. Either way, I’ll be looking at the camera’s LCD in live view, so my eyes should be safe.

Totality will happen around 11:35 am in Saint Anthony, versus the 10:21 am timing in Dayville, Oregon, our originally-planned location. That means the sun will be higher in the sky than I expected. I’ve tested with both cameras and lenses on my two tripods – I can handle any sun angle from 0 degree horizontal to 85-degree near-vertical. Tracking will be easier with my 500mm lens balanced on a Wimberley Sidekick gimbal head. This setup lets you move a heavy lens and camera around with a fingertip.

The other challenge is the near-the-ground camera viewing postion when the sun is overhead. I used a low stool for an astronomical telescope in the past. I’ll have a similar 15″-high stool for the eclipse.

Daisy gets her next chemo and immunocidin treatments together on Monday, August 14. Our only constraint is returning home before her next treatments two weeks later. Hopefully she’ll continue to improve – we want our goofy girl with us for as long as possible.

Daisy a week after chemo and immunocidin, August 2017
75mm f/2 APO-Summicron-M ASPH on Leica M10

In the doses Daisy gets, chemo doesn’t make your fur fall out.
It does darken your tongue, though.