Capturing the partial Solar Eclipse with a Nokia Lumia 1020...

Recently some of us were able to witness a partial Solar Eclipse of the sun. Where I live the sky was mostly covered with thick clouds, but Richard Shepherd was more lucky. He tried to capture the event with his Nokia Lumia 1020 and he asked me I'd be interested to share his experiences here at the club. Well, of course! :-) So everything you will read below - and every shot you'll see - is by Richard Shepherd. Enjoy!

When I knew there was going to be a partial Eclipse of the sun over Nottingham on the 20th March 2015, I didn't have high hopes.  When there was a total eclipse over Cornwall in 1999 I drove there but all was totally cloudy.  It was still a good experience to see how dark it got at 11am!.  All the birds stopped singing and it got pretty cold immediately, eclipse weather I believe.

So I was very casual about the 20th March 2015.  I had to work that day anyway. I couldn't find my special eclipse safety glasses but I thought I wouldn't see anything anyway.... shockingly, I didn't even take my 808 with me! Why bother, you won't see anything?....

At about 9.15 the partial eclipse had started and shockingly clouds were not covering the Sun! So I started to think maybe I could get SOMETHING with the 1020, maybe as an experiment rather than perfect shots....so I quickly looked up 1020 exposure factors for “shoot the moon” and found...

this AAWP page first. I imagined that I need the same principle, we have a massively bright sun and we want to turn down the factors to limit the amount of light coming in to the sensor.  The article said:
exposure -3EV
ISO 100
shutter speed 1/400s and that's for the moon at night so I thought I'd try 1/16667s!

Crazy factors eh? In practice, it worked basically. The weird thing is the first few shots with zero cloud produced an image of the remaining crescent of the sun with most of it covered by the moon, then also a massively flaring bright white lens effect (I think).  The position of the the lens flare relative to the crescent sun changed depending on where I aimed, they kind of yo-yo'd around each other.

At least I got a picture of the crescent shaped partial eclipse because at this point with the naked eye and no clouds it was too bright to see anything without getting your retina lasered.

At this point I did think “damn why didn't I bring the 808, the ND filter might have really helped!” Then nature took it's course and some clouds just started to come over.  I kept shooting. Initially we just get the massive bright lens flare (I presume) and no sign of the crescent sun.

Then the clouds acted as a bit of a neutral density filter and I got the “truest” shots of the crescent sun I think...mainly because with the help of the clouds we could now see the crescent sun with the naked eye.  I did crops of 2 shots with no clouds (but obvious lens flare) and 2 crops with the sun peeking thru a gap in the clouds (no lens flare).

Although these are by no means perfect pictures, It was a damn sight more than I thought I would ever get. MOST importantly, fairly incredible for a last minute idea with a PHONE camera! If I ever got to try again I might back down a bit from 1/16667s !

I would be very interested what the experts (Bigley Ling & Eric Chiu, I'm looking at you....) have to say about what the hell is going on with the lens flare AND crescent showing separately.  I imagine it must be something to do with the 5 or 6 elements in the 1020 lens?

All 41MP shots and 4 crops are on my Flickr page. Any feedback gratefully accepted and thanks to AAWP for the idea on the factors....

Richard Shepherd