Dubai - Chasing the solar eclipse: KT photographer recounts first experience in UAE

Dubai - Chasing the solar eclipse: KT photographer recounts first experience in UAE
Dubai - Chasing the solar eclipse: KT photographer recounts first experience in UAE

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Aden - Yasmine El Tohamy - It is special to experience something for the first time. That memory is carried with you for your entire life. The annular solar eclipse was one of those memories for me. It was my very first solar eclipse. I was excited and nervous when I was assigned to shoot this event. Excited because anyone who knows me will tell you that I am fanatical about chasing the perfect night sky to shoot the meteors and the milky way. This time, It was going to be chasing the sun. Nervous because shooting the sun is a dangerous thing to do. It can lead to permanent loss of vision and damage to equipment when not done right.

To be informed of the risks and to be familiarised, two days before the event, I attended a workshop on the right way of shooting the solar eclipse. I received special solar filters for the camera and my eyes. Years of astrophotography have taught me that planning is the key to getting the right shot. Yesterday, around the same time of today's eclipse, I began to do test shots of the sun. This helped me in getting used to the solar filters on the camera and getting the right exposure. The thing about solar filters is that nothing else is visible except the sun.

I decided to shoot the eclipse in Madinat Zayed as the town was exactly above the path of the moon and sun. The goal was to photograph the "ring of fire" when the moon is over the sun but not completely covering the sun. Driving down to Madinat Zayed at 4am was like a race against the sunrise. I arrived a little ahead of the sunrise and set up the camera mounted on a 600mm lens. Soon after, people gathered around to look at the 'astronomical' size of the 600mm lens. Minutes later, the sun peeked above the horizon. I dialed in the exposure settings, wore the protective eyeglasses, set the camera to shoot at 10-second intervals and witnessed the eclipse in all its glory.

Astro events are fun and some are rare like the annular solar eclipse. It is important to document them. It is more important to enjoy them. And that's exactly what I did. Being part of the UAE's history.

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