The Singapore Solar Eclipse Spectacular!

I was up early this morning to catch the partial solar eclipse visible from Singapore. Starting at 7.23am, peaking at 8.23am with 80% of the Sun obscured before ending at 9.23am, the chance to witness one of these relatively infrequent occurrences was not something I would miss!

The preparation started 6 months earlier...

To safely view the sun and make sure my eyes & camera would not be damaged I bought some specialist solar filter paper from Germany back in 2015. This stuff looks & feels like plasticky aluminium foil but in fact it's very different. It blocks more than 99.99% of the Sun's light, letting just enough through to safely observe. If you've seen those special cardboard eclipses glasses you can buy it's basically the same material, but I needed a LOT more to make a filter!

I have to stress, you must never look directly at the sun unless you have proper, approved protection. Sunglasses won't cut it! Unless you're using specialist filters you will be slowly blinding yourself and, because your eye has no pain receptors, you won't know it's happening. You have been warned!

I used my longest telephoto lens, the Tamron 150-600mm, and paired it with the Canon 6D body. This meant I needed to build a slip-on filter big enough to go around the end of this mammoth lens! I cut out a cardboard mount for the filter paper, stapled it firmly in place then rolled a tube of black card around the end of the lens. Attaching the two together I then tried to make the filter end as "light-proof" as possible.

Check out the images below to see what I ended up with! I hear that NASA are so impressed with my engineering they're going to offer me a job ;)

The shiny material in is the special solar filter paper. $30 for a sheet but worth it!

The shiny material in is the special solar filter paper. $30 for a sheet but worth it!

Lens & DIY filter side-by-side

Lens & DIY filter side-by-side

I used the torch in the background to check for any tiny holes in the reflective filter material. Even tiny ones would damage your eyesight or ruin your camera if you pointed it at the Sun for long enough.

I used the torch in the background to check for any tiny holes in the reflective filter material. Even tiny ones would damage your eyesight or ruin your camera if you pointed it at the Sun for long enough.

Sunrise in Singapore is usually about 7am and I headed to the beach to make sure I had a clear, unobstructed view of the horizon. In the pre-dawn sky I even spotted Venus shining brightly although it wasn't long before dawn broke and Venus was lost in the glare. After setting up my camera & tripod I had a few minutes to shoot the sunrise.

I need to shoot more sunrises on the beach, conditions were awesome.

It wasn't long before I was joined by a fellow photographer (Joseph Lim - his DIY floppy disk filter was great but the cardboard box pinhole camera was even better!) and before I knew it we were surrounded by interested onlookers, joggers and families! I was cool! Loads of people interested in what was happening, how we were photographing it and we even started chatting about the science of eclipses! It was a great atmosphere - hearing people "oooh" and "ahhh" when they saw the eclipse for themselves was fun :)

This guy is using a slice of the same filter material I used for my lens to protect his eyes.

This guy is using a slice of the same filter material I used for my lens to protect his eyes.

People were queuing up to take photographs of the eclipse from the back of our cameras.

Shortly after the eclipse began - if you click to open the larger image you can even see sunspots!

Normally at 8am this view of the beach is a LOT brighter! The sky would just blown out completely but as we approached the maximum it was eeriely dark!

As good as it got in Singapore! Peak coverage with 80% of the disc of the sun obscured. It was quite a strange feeling, the morning was noticeably darker and even cooler than normal!

Finally, I took a photo roughly every 10 seconds to turn into a timelapse video. It's a little patchy in places, cloud cover obscured the view after maximum and ultimately the eclipse was cut short when a cloud covered the Sun for the last 10 minutes or so. Check out the timelapse below!

And a GIF version for the people at work who can't access youtube :D