Summary: What can you do if it is a cloudy day?
My attempt at practicing solar photography yesterday evening was a mega disaster! I had only taken 3 to 4 photographs, when the western sky was filled with thick layer of dark clouds (rain came later in the night). So I came back home feeling very gloomy. The photograph below pretty-much sums up my feelings, as well as the weather conditions of the day.
What happens when you prepare for a long time for a certain photograph only to be disappointed to find the weather conditions are not the way you wish it were? For example, what would you do if you see clouds filling the sky on the afternoon of June 5 (in Northern America) or the morning of June 6 (in Europe)? Of course, I guess that you will not be very happy, especially if you had been waiting for this moment, waiting for a chance to see the last Venus transit of (most of) our lifetime?
My only request is that, don’t give up! Get to the place you had planned to be with your camera and lenses; set up your camera and wait. Wait and hope that the clouds will pass away, and the sky will be clear, even if it happens for a very brief moment. You should be ready not to miss out on the opportunity if and when the moment comes.
In photography, just like anything else in life, you have to take your chances. Great things happen to the prepared mind. Remember, the best of photographs are usually those that are successfully taken in “unusual” conditions: inclement weather, difficult lighting condition, unexpected situations, etc. If you don’t believe me, take a look at the work of David Cortner. (Even if you agree with me, however,) you must take a look at his extremely beautiful images of the transit of Venus taken in 2004. I would have put his photographs here, but for copyright notices at his website which I respect. I have written to him asking for his permission, so that I may display a few of his photographs of the 2004 transit of Venus here. Till I get the permission, you will have to see them at his website at http://www.davidcortner.com/astro/vtransit/.
[UPDATE: May 29, 2012]
Mr. David Cortner was generous and very prompt in replaying to my email, and so here are couple of his brilliant photographs from the 2004 transit of Venus.
Also, lets hear it is from the horse’s mouth:
Waiting… fifteen minutes till sunrise. Fog down on the treetops, a threat of rain. The weather was drearier than this flash-assisted 1/2-second exposure might suggest. I wouldn’t have bothered but for the thought that if James Cook would sail halfway around the world to see a transit, who am I not to get up early for the same opportunity? Just the same, I’m thinking it’s a good thing I brought something to read.
What a difference an hour makes. By the time I made this picture, all the photos above were “in the can,” and the disk of Venus was crossing the Sun’s limb. The Sun emerged about 6:30 with a ghostly Venus near the end of its transit. Timestamps applied by the camera show that the sky was clear enough for photography twice, and the two intervals totalled a little more than 12 minutes. This is about as clear as it ever got. Immediately after, the overcast became complete, and I did not see the Sun again all day. Nice timing!
And if the weather decides not to have mercy, try not be upset. At least, you know you tried. Good Luck.