Blog

The official photo blog of J. David Buerk Photography.

Fredericksburg Antiquing

Heading to the DC Big Flea tomorrow? Kick off your weekend with some Fredericksburg antique shop finds from last weekend!

I didn’t pick anything up this time, but window shopping in antique shops is exciting to me enough on its own, plus I discovered a new favorite singer in one of the stores, so I have new albums I’m eating up as a result.

Always bring home memories, even if they’re not physical.

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Old Rag Mountain: August, 2018

Lately I’ve been slowly working my way through unedited personal sets in my photo library. This week’s offering is from last Summer, when I finally got to hike Old Rag once again. After my Spring, 2017 knee mishap which led to surgery and a long recovery in PT, this was my first time hiking Old Rag since making a full recovery.

My friend Patrick, who you may recognize from many of my car posts, and I hit the trail on a steamy August mid-morning. I’d come to find out later that day there were other people I know on the mountain at the same time we were, but we simply never crossed paths; funny how that works sometimes.

Old Rag is the tallest peak in Shenandoah National Park, and naturally provides some of the most incredible panoramic views of the Shenandoah Valley. It is known for its extensive granite rock scrambles along the trail with some locations along the trail and at the summit offering opportunities for bouldering or full-on rock climbing for those feeling more daring.

All photos in this post are available for print here.

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If you’re unfamiliar, parts of the trail run through and under the massive granite boulders; here, the trail proceeds up a natural staircase inside the opening between the rocks, in the center of the frame below. As you ascend and eventually descend the mountain, you can changes in foliage, ground composition, and wildlife.

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Chicago • Milwaukee: February, 2019

This February brought another travel photo assignment; my third assignment in Chicago. Some extraordinary circumstances were leading up to my travels this time around; namely, the 35 day long government shutdown, and the January–February 2019 North American cold wave which sent the Polar Vortex plunging into the midwest - both were impacting air-travel in the weeks preceding my scheduled trip to one of the cities most severely impacted by these events.

Both the government shutdown and polar vortex ended the same week, just one week prior to my travel dates. Because of the government shutdown, I wasn’t able to complete my interview for Global Entry (and more importantly to me, TSA Pre✓; the real goal since I’m currently only flying domestic, and have been well-versed in air-travel since 2005), despite having my pre-clearance for a while. I actually still haven’t my interview yet because I’ve been anticipating another government shutdown on February 15th (although today’s news indicates another shutdown may be averted).

Seeing the images out of Chicago during the worst of the Polar Vortex, I was glad to be home during the fierce cold, which at its worst reached a wind chill in the -50ºFs… but a tiny part of me wished I was there to witness temperatures colder than the Arctic.

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As always, I schedule my travel days to be as relaxing as possible - the goal is to get there and get settled, along with some good food. In fact I have the IAD - ORD - IAD route down to a science now, taking the exact same departure and return flights, and staying at the same business hotel in nearby Rosemont.

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Chicago O'Hare International Airport Safety Fair

The next morning was my scheduled photoshoot. Unfortunately, due to a paperwork technicality beyond my control, the photoshoot wasn’t able to happen; I’ll have to reschedule for next month. Sometimes things just don’t work out as planned; all you can do is your best.

As I was retreating back to the hotel after a long morning trying to find a solution, I came across a curious gathering in O’Hare’s Terminal 2; as it turned out, I was there the same day as ORD’s annual Safety Fair. Or Faire as this should be called!

I introduced myself to one of the organizers and was invited to participate since I was wearing my airport credentials. O’Hare has a safety fair annually, which has a different theme each year. This year’s was medieval times… but given the Polar Vortex, I think they should have just called it “Winter is Coming,” or “Winter is Here!”

Stations included airport security, wheelchair safety, and first aid, among others. Quite cleverly, the blood / spill cleanup practice station was a CPR dummy in a guillotine - Halloween, be still my heart!

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A Day in Milwaukee

At this point, I’ve seen the majority of attractions Chicago is known for, outside of a Cubs game and its museums such as the Museum of Science and Industry and Adler Planetarium, all of which are on my list for future visits. This time around I wanted to do something different. My original plan was to rent a car to have it for dinner at Pequod's Pizza after my photoshoot (Pequod's isn’t feasibly accessible by train). The mishap with the photoshoot threw a wrench into that plan, because our Hail Mary plan was to try and get the required paperwork filed for the next morning - that plan of course didn’t work out either.

I spent my Friday morning assessing my options, forming a plan to get the pictures I needed, and finally talk with my client (who is based in London, by the way) about the situation and how to proceed. Work is always first priority. Exhausted of options to get the pictures I needed for this trip, there was no other option but to begin organizing a reshoot upon returning home.

Now I had the remainder of this day free, which meant I had the rest of the day to go for my plan to go explore nearby Milwaukee. Given the changes to my plans, this meant I had to rent the car that morning, rather than already have it and just be able to hit the road 1hr 20min North to Brewery City. No big deal; I just wouldn’t have as much time in the city as I’d originally expected.

Mercedes-Benz CLA Mini-Review

Seeing my options for rentals, I settled on a Mercedes-Benz CLA. The CLA has a reputation for being driven aggressively by… jerks… and although I’ve never liked the car from an outside perspective, I wanted to see if it there was a reason it caused this behavior to earn its reputation. First stop, however, was O’Hare’s new rental car facility, which was interesting because I’d already been to it in October, but without renting a car.

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My review of the CLA requires no more than a paragraph: I didn't like it. Not one bit. It felt cheap and plasticky, and the fact it was a baseline with only a panoramic roof that I couldn’t even use (because it was, ya know, 13ºF out, which incidentally is warmer than it was when I was here in December) didn’t help. The seats were comfortable, but were sport-styled single-piece-backed buckets that would be more at home in a boy-racer sport coupe than a car billed as entry-level luxury. Beyond the logo on the wheel and infotainment display, I honestly felt like I was in a glossy mid-2000s economy car; modern offerings from Mazda and Honda are simply nicer. Furthermore, I find it very interesting that Mercedes doesn’t list an MPG rating for the car on their website - I only drove the car from Chicago, to Milwaukee, and back, and had used over half the tank with interstate driving only. Remember, the CLA has a 208hp 2L I4 (with a 7 speed DCT that was very nice, I’ll add); I’m not sure where that much fuel went - my suspicion is its range suffers from its 13 gallon fuel tank. In conclusion, the body looks nice, but it’s poseur-luxury, that gets its impolite reputation from the owners, not any characteristic the car lends to the driver.

I hope the Volvo is available next time.

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Downtown Milwaukee

I may have missed the Polar Vortex by a week, but the effects were still there. Milwaukee River was now the Milwaukee Ice Rink, and all main roads had burns of not snow, but solid ice like curbs on each side. It was warmer this time than my last jaunt along Lake Michigan, but there was still a windchill of -7ºF.

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First stop was lunch. I had no plan for the day except find some local food for lunch, find some breweries to tour, and maybe find some cheese if I can. Arriving in the heart of downtown, I looked up some nearby restaurants to see what would appeal - Milwaukee Brat House sounded amazing, and I wasn’t wrong. Later in the day I’d find out my instincts were more than right - it’s a very highly-regarded German pub known of all over the city, with connections to the Milwaukee Brewers. 10/10 would recommend and return to.

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After lunch, I found a cheese boutique with samples of many of their offerings. Most of the selection was from Wisconsin, with some from other well known cheese regions including England and Italy. After sampling about half the cheeses on display that day, I picked up several Wisconsin cheeses, making sure one of them was cheese curds. Since getting back home, I’ve been asked if there is such thing as a cheese tasting, like a wine tasting. There actually is, and I’ve done it here in Virginia - I think it should be more common though. Pairings are just fascinating to me. And seriously; who doesn’t like cheese?

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Miller Brewery

Next stop was the MillerCoors Brewery. Unfortunately the last tour went out around the time I was arriving to Milwaukee about 2 hours prior, but they still gave me a beer tasting. Those of you who know me know I’m much more of a wine person. As for beer, I don’t dislike it, but I have to be in the right mood for it, and I generally only like dark beers such as porters or stouts, or smooth and balanced beers like red ales and lagers. I do not like IPAs, and don’t understand their popularity. Coors is known for their light beers, which just taste like water to me, but the beertender did give me a Leinenkugel’s Snowdrift Vanilla Porter that I liked (didn’t I just say I like porters?).

It’s a real shame I didn’t get to go on the tour, because I’ve been on the Anheuser-Busch brewery tour in St. Louis, and it was underwhelming; they only walk you around outside and point to buildings and pipes - you see none of the actual production. The Miller tour is reportedly much more comprehensive, and shows guests each step in their actual operating production line.

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Lakefront Brewery

Since Miller brewery didn’t work out like I’d hoped, next stop was a microbrewery that at least five people I’d met that day had recommended (including a few at Miller!). Over I went to Lakefront Brewery, with a ticket to the brewery tour already loaded in my Apple Wallet before I even got there.

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Now I got the tour of a lifetime. The brewery itself is quite small, but the personalities of the staff are huge - don’t miss this brewery if you ever go to Wisconsin! I won’t spoil it for you, but you’re in for some entertainment and audience participation on this tour. Even better if it’s your birthday!

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The brewery has a full-service restaurant specializing in German food and fish-fry, so naturally it was dinner time with some brews. There was a polka band scheduled to play that night, but they never took the stage for whatever reason.

What was fascinating to me was that there were barrels from Catoctin Creek distillery all over the tasting room - I’ve been toCatoctin Creek; it’s just 30min from home for me. Speaking with the beertender about it, he told me that the owners use those barrels for small batches of owner-only beer. Very fascinating!

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I had a hankering for cheesecake, but the brewery only offered cookies and chocolates for desert - that just won’t do. On the recommendation of several brewery staff, I walked across the river to a local favorite pizza place. It was nothing like I expected - this place was more upscale (wine) tasting room than takeout pizza joint it seemed like from the outside. I wish I’d known about it before dinner at the brewery, because I would have preferred to go here for dinner instead. They were playing downtempo lounge and EDM tracks I have on my iPhone while I ate my tiramisu.

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ORD - IAD

The next morning was my flight - it felt really, really strange leaving a city 700 miles from home without the pictures I needed, the only reason I was there in the first place. It was a lot of fun and I got a lot of great pictures, but not the pictures I needed, which left me feeling empty as I waited for my plane to push back.

I did make a friend though. My flight was half empty, and the person in the aisle seat was bringing a Mew home to a little girl. I made sure Mew was safely buckled in for departure.

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Chicago, from the air, at night, is just magical, as I expounded on in this previous post. In daylight I don’t expect such a display from this city, however this time I was in for a surprise. I’d seen the pictures of Chicago during the Polar Vortex the week prior; it looked like scenes straight from The Day After Tomorrow. It hadn’t registered, however, that I’d see some of it for myself. Temperatures were a much more livable 20ºF, but there was still a staggering amount of ice on the lake. When it finally registered what I was seeing below me, my jaw actually dropped. The pictures can give you some sense of scale, but they simply don’t do the size of the expanse of ice justice. I’ve never seen anything like it in my life.

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This flight also gave me a new view of Dulles’ airfield, and some of the nearby quarries, thanks to the approach we’d been placed on.

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Now that I’m back, it’s time to start planning when I’ll be going back!

Total Solar Eclipse: August 21st, 2017

If you ever have the opportunity to go see a total eclipse, or even more impressive, an annular eclipse, I cannot urge you strongly enough to go experience it.  I've witnessed lunar eclipses, but this was my first solar eclipse, and with the totality arc sweeping only a 7 hour drive from DC, I knew if I was available I had to make the trip to experience it.  I am so very glad I did.

Originally I didn't think I'd even be available to see the eclipse, let alone travel to totality, despite being invited by friends' families; I had a large photoshoot planned beginning Tuesday which would have made travel outside of DC impossible, and several inquiries for the day of which were quickly rescinded when they realized that was eclipse day - I wasn't accepting shoots for Monday anyway, as I wanted to be sure to be free to at least see a partial eclipse.  In the end, the large photoshoot fell-through, leaving me free to make last-minute plans to travel to totality!  I booked a small shoot with an ongoing client of mine for Tuesday afternoon, which meant I could drive back immediately after the eclipse and still make my Tuesday photoshoot even if traffic slowed me down, and oh boy, did the traffic do that; we'll get to that part later.

Since my eclipse plans were completely last-minute, fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants, I hadn't made any arrangements up to that point, including obtaining solar filter glasses, which I'd looked up on Amazon months in advance, but didn't see anything for sale smaller than 100-packs - way more than what I needed.  You can see some of my experience nabbing just two pairs of eclipse glasses in my previous blog entry about eclipse photography safety.  I had considered buying a solar filter for my camera around the same time, but forwent it because A) I hadn't researched them yet, B) they're expensive, and C) they're highly specialized, specific-use tools that I'd be buying to use on only one occasion; in other words, not really worth the expense to me.  Forming plans to travel for the eclipse mere days before the event was actually a good thing, because my original plan to travel to South Carolina would have been foiled by cloud-cover which prevented most of that state from seeing the eclipse at all.  Thanks to late-stage forecasts from the National Weather Service, I chose Tennessee, which had the clearest skies in the country second to Oregon the day of the eclipse.

I knew finding a hotel inside the totality would have been impossible a month out, and I was ok with driving a bit before the eclipse, so I found a hotel just South of Knoxville one hour outside the totality, or 1.5hrs off of the totality centerline, and snagged a one of the last rooms available; that was about as close as one could book a few days before the eclipse anyway.  The hotel was about 6hrs away, and traffic on the way down Sunday evening was just fine.  The next morning, Jake and I awoke early and drove the hour South into the totality arc.  With about an hour before the partial eclipse began, we grabbed a burger at Wendy's to fuel up before finding our final spot to stare at the sun.  We weren't alone; seemingly everyone inside was doing the same thing, the Wendy's workers were changing their TV to a local news channel hosting an event in Sweetwater, Tennessee, and there were people setting up their telescopes under a tree on the hotel lawn next door.  We easily could have stayed here to watch, but I wanted to get closer to the centerline since we had the time.  We got in the car, drove another 20min South, passed Sweetwater (which I'd been considering until we saw the TV coverage) and exited in Niota to start looking for a clear spot to set up.  Passing tent-cities and hippie-vans, we ended up in a youth baseball field grass parking lot with lots of other observers from all over the country.  It was just by chance that we parked next to a pickup truck with a George Mason University sticker on the rear window.  An ultra-light and a Cessna flew circles overhead waiting for the total eclipse to hit in about an hour and a half as folks were setting up their telescopes, cameras, and binoculars in the parking lot.

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I wasn't the only person without a solar filter - in fact, I was surprised at how few people had cameras or even telescopes set up - there were more telescopes than cameras here, which meant that several people came over to see what I captured once the show had ended.  I talked a little with one person who had a 1400mm reflector telescope set up, and found that his solar filter had broken in the days before the eclipse; of course he was unable to get a replacement.  Quite a shame, but he was able to use the telescope to project a bright, sharp image of the eclipsing sun on a plate - the beam emanating the eyepiece was too intense and hot to hold your hand in front of for more than a few seconds!

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The real star of the park was a 700mm pair of solar filtered binoculars set up on a tripod, owned by a nice lady who was letting anyone take a look.  The view was tight and clear you could make out sunspots on the surface.

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As the partial eclipse began, the first change I noticed was I no longer was squinting to see - I'm unlucky in that my eyes are pretty sensitive to the sun's intensity, so in broad daylight I always squint without sunglasses; this was a comfortable change that had my wishing for that level of brightness all the time - that being said, nothing looked different at this point; it was just more comfortable viewing.  Alongside this change, the heat of the sun was no longer beating down on your skin, making things a lot more comfortable even though the air temperature hadn't changed yet.  We noticed this about 1/3rd into the partial eclipse, and began noticing gradual brightness and temperature changes from this point onward.  The puffy clouds spotting the sky an hour earlier had moved out of the area or dissipated; it's unclear if, in Niota, this was due to the eclipse, or just coincidental.

As the eclipse continued, the brightness noticeably began dimming.  Jake accurately described it like wearing permanent polarized sunglasses - brightness was comfortably reduced significantly, and colors popped vibrantly, though there was not a color temperature change as there is during sunset or sunrise.  The strength of dimming wasn't really evident since it took place gradually and shadows of course linearly followed; it wasn't until I shot a few environmental photos that I noticed how drastic the change in brightness had become; I was flabbergasted that I had to quickly move from ISO100 all the way up to ISO6400, and I was still at 1/60th at just f/5.6 for some of these photos - it felt dimmer, but not *that* dim.  Looking toward the sky without solar glasses showed the sun with visual intensity just like any other day, however the ocular reflex to squint or avert your eyes was completely gone now - I now understood that this is the reason NASA and all outlets were almost comically compelling viewers to use the solar glasses at all times outside of totality - after experiencing this, I completely understand how people may have the temptation to look at the sun without protection - at this point you body wasn't providing any reflexive discomfort to try and stop you.  Jake and I of course understood this, but between the ocular comfort, the vibrant colors, and the the dimming intensity, things already felt a bit hyperreal.

In the last 5 minutes before totality, the dimming really began picking up to the point where the change was actively noticeable, as though somebody had a dimmer switch on the sun.  The area was getting darker in the way everything darkens when a large storm is moving in quick, except the sun was still shining intensely, if not slightly smaller looking in the sky if you can imagine that.  The temperature had already dropped a bit, but it was now beginning to feel cooler by the minute.  The bugs in the nearby treeline had gone quiet, adding an eerie silence to an already eerie sight.  Jake and I tried out the pinhole viewer to see how it compared to what we were seeing through the solar filter glasses.

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Knowing totality was only a few minutes away, I got my camera out of the cool car and on the tripod to ready it.  To ensure I didn't fry anything, I pre-set a two minute timer on my phone, in airplane mode to avoid social interference, so I'd have an audible 30 second warning when to take the last burst of photos, divert my camera, and enjoy watching totality complete; I'd begin this timer the moment totality began.  The sky itself was quickly becoming dark at this point, as though dusk itself was surrounding us in all directions, except with the sun still high above.  Nearby streetlights began turning on.

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Totality

In the final moments before the moon totally blocked the sun, the temperature dropped significantly, probably around 10°F.  The sky was already dark as it is during dusk, and the sun, although still emitting intense light, felt foreign; instinctively it felt as though a celestial body was in the sky, but it was no longer the sun.  This feeling was a bit unnerving, but moments later when totality hit is when things really felt alarmingly eerie.

Watching the moon intercept the sun through the solar glasses revealed a small, arc of light as though someone had swiped a single curved brushstroke with a brush that painted with light.  This reduced into a razor thin arc so sharp I can't really describe how crisp it was.  In the moment the sun was finally obscured, the brightness we are so familiar with receded as if the sun were an explosion in reverse, and everything went dark in an instant, just as though the Sun were a candle that had been blown out leaving behind just the residual glow of embers in the wick.  Moments later, all of the nighttime bugs began their din of hissing and chirping, jolting in their abrupt reminder of how quiet it had actually become.  The dog in the car next to us, who was already agitated with the dimming light, became scared, and was barking frantically trying to warn everyone of an unknown danger.  The glowing white ember of the Sun's corona floating in the sky was now visible as a ring of white fire with the moon obstructing the Sun's direct intensity.

The corona was beautiful.  The corona was spooky.  Totality was like instantaneous nighttime under a full moon, but the moon had been stolen and replaced by a black hole.  Staring up at the dark sky to see a foreign celestial body surrounded by twinkling planets and stars in all directions was the most jarring feeling of the whole experience - losing your thoughts into the heavens was the surreal, and again, eerie, feeling as if you were living a sci-fi film; staring at the corona in totality felt like the black hole Gargantua in Interstellar has appeared in the sky like the Death Star and was imminently going to suck you in.  The first look through the viewfinder to line up the shot and ensure focus froze me and dropped my jaw it was so shocking and beautiful and clear - the extreme zoom brought the sun so close, and you could see waves in the corona gently moving as if in a calm breeze.  In the picture you can even see some small solar prominences.  I am so very glad I was fortunate enough to travel and see and experience this in person, because absolutely no photo, no video, and no description can properly convey how overwhelmingly awesome totality is to witness.  But of course I tried.

Total Solar Eclipse, August 21st, 2017

Exodus

Just as quickly as totality had begun, the moon's obstruction waned.  My two minute alarm sounded, alerting me there was just over 30 seconds of totality remaining - Niota, Tennessee experienced 2 minutes and 38 seconds of totality; one of the longest in the country, only behind Kentucky who experienced an additional two seconds, since they were at the very top of the Earth's eclipse path.  In the last moments of totality the white ring of light began getting brighter along the opposite edge, and a few seconds later the sun burst back into view with an explosion of light along the side of the moon.  Just as quickly as the lights went out, they came back on - shadows returned to the ground, and the sun's brightness increased just like when stadium lights get kicked on but take a few minutes to warm up to full brightness.  From here, everything began happening in reverse, although it seemed quicker than the onset - the quieter daytime bugs started their calls again, temperatures began rising, the dog calmed down, and the surreal vibrance began to wear off.  We took our time packing and cleaning up the car; enjoy a few extra minutes of the moon's remaining transit across the sun, and relax - we knew we were going to endure awful traffic getting home regardless.  We hit the road when we began feeling the sun's heat on our skin again, with the Sun still about halfway obstructed by the moon.

I won't bore you too much with the traffic nightmare - it truly was a nightmare.  A trip that should have taken 7hrs ended up a 15hr endurance run that we split. 75, 40, 81, and 66 were all the same for the entire 15hr journey - solid, standstill rushour-like traffic with brief and sporadic areas of speed with equal volume.  This was the worst sustained traffic I've ever experienced, and I've been on plenty of roadtrips of much longer distances.  Waze helped a little, but with the volume, hundreds of other Wazers also clogged the few country roads routing us around construction Tennessee and Virginia inexplicably chose to conduct on a day they knew traffic would be some of the worst ever seen.  We got back home a little after 6, just before sunrise; I was able to snag 5hrs of sleep before my photoshoot, and Jake unfortunately had to head straight to work because of, you guessed it, traffic.  I'd absolutely do it again though.  Totality was worth it.

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Camera Gear Geekery

In the days before the eclipse, I'd researched and considered how I could photograph the astronomical event without a solar filter, and I was content to just see it without photographing, but when I learned you could safely photograph the corona during totality, I knew I'd at least do that (I'd previously always heard you couldn't look at even the corona during totality of a solar eclipse because even-though visible light is cut down to safe levels, ultraviolet light was not - I was happy to find in my research that this is not the case, and you can safely view and photograph the corona during the brief totality period without any protective measures).

On a whim, I found a way to mount an old crop-sensor telephoto lens to my 2X teleconverter, bringing it to 540mm on full-frame, or a whopping 854mm on a crop body (which I don't own).  The reason this crop-sensor lens contraption works without vignetting on a full-frame camera is because the field of view is so narrow shooting through a teleconverter.  I taped this Tamron lens to 540mm so it wouldn't accidentally zoom back in and damage the lens elements (remember, this is a lens combination I had to modify to even get to mount), and found that infinity focus is at the very end of the zoom, so no need to lock in focus.  At the same time, I also pre-focused my 70-200mm and taped the focus in place (the 70-200 can focus beyond infinity, whereas the Tamron stops at infinity); the plan was to take a few photos during totality with the Tamron's 540mm extended focal reach, and quickly switch to the Canon's 400mm to ensure I captured sharp images - the Tamron is an old, entry-level lens being used in a way it was never intended, in an un-proven theoretical setup, whereas the Canon is known to be razor sharp, and I use it with the teleconverter more often than not.

Originally I'd planned to use my 5D Mark II for shooting the eclipse, since it's older and a bit more expendable / affordable to fix the event I made a mistake and accidentally fried my shutter or sensor, and it also has a slight megapixel advantage which could be utilized since the ISO should stay pretty low, but last minute I decided to use the 1D X instead because I wasn't feeling convinced at how well the 5D was metering on-the-fly, and I knew using the 1D would be faster in all ways, which is crucial when you only have a little over two minutes to shoot.  Here is the Tamron contraption ready to be aimed and shoot just a few minutes before totality; the Canon was kept cool in the car, waiting to be switched quickly - I shot with both lenses for about 60 seconds each during totality.  In the end the Canon was indeed sharper, and I opted to use the images shot on the Canon rather than the Tamron; the bump in focal reach wasn't... eclipsed... by the level of sharpness, which I had suspected but at least wanted to give it a shot.  This isn't to say the Tamron's photos weren't usable - they absolutely were; I just had sharper photos from the Canon, so I used those instead.  This just goes to show you can photograph worry-free with entry-level lenses, but the pro level lenses do offer better results, and should definitely be used in mission-critical professional contexts.  And since we're being technical, my focus for the Tamron was spot on, but my pre-focusing on the Canon was a little off, so when I threw that lens on the camera I had to quickly adjust the focus before continuing to shoot - that only takes a second or two, but with only 2 minutes 38 seconds of totality, seconds are extremely valuable.

Here is the Tamron contraption; it could still be useful for some applications such as nature or macro photography - I found that the minimum focal distance of this combination is just a few inches - 540mm at 4" is pretty incredible magnification!

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