This image shows a two hour solar eclipse sequence photographed over the Washington Monument Monday, from 1:10 p.m. to 3:10 p.m., with five minute increments displayed. A thunderstorm ended the sequence photo shoot. (Michael Ambrose, Kevin Ambrose)

Boom!  Thunder echoed across the Mall. “That ends our photo shoot,” I said to my son. We had been photographing the solar eclipse over the Washington Monument every minute for the past two hours. We were two-thirds of the way through the sequence of the eclipsing sun. We packed the cameras and rushed off the monument grounds.

Earlier that day, we arrived in D.C. around 1 p.m. and set up a camera on a tripod with a solar filter and aimed it at the sun, which was slowly tracking to the west over the Washington Monument. My son and I took turns shooting photos every minute while slowly panning the camera to follow the sun.  Occasionally, small clouds blocked the sun but they moved quickly away and did not disrupt our photo shoot sequence until the storm arrived.

While my son photographed, I walked around the monument grounds shooting people scenes and close-ups of the eclipse with another camera. I used a polarizing filter on my second camera and set the camera with a very high F-stop.

Most of the eclipse close-ups didn’t turn out with my second camera because the sun is too bright, even when it’s 81 percent eclipsed, but a few photos turned out okay when the clouds provided a natural filter for the sunlight.


The crescent sun moves over the Washington Monument with a passing cloud during the solar eclipse. (Kevin Ambrose)

“You’ll burn your eyes out!” I reminded myself over and over when I was tempted to look at the sun to frame the photo.  And during the eclipse shoot, I was very good about not looking directly at the sun, except when I wore my eclipse glasses.

I even took the precaution to mount my camera with the solar filter chest-level on the tripod with the LCD display pulled out and turned to face upward. Thus, my son and I looked down at the camera while it was aimed up at the sun. That technique worked well. I also tried to use the same technique with my handheld camera with good success.


A man relaxes in the grass while watching the eclipse at the Washington Monument. (Kevin Ambrose)

I have included just a few of the hundreds of eclipse photos in this post that I took Monday. It’s a mix of people and sun photos. The Washington Monument grounds were fairly crowded with people who slowly moved to follow the sun.  Everyone wanted an eclipse photo with the Washington Monument, it appeared.

The solar eclipse sequence at the top of this post is the result of the two hour photo sequence shoot and displays the eclipsed sun at five minute increments. The solar filter works well to expose the sun but not the background. Thus, for the sequence background image, I chose a Washington Monument photo from Monday’s eclipse shoot, exposed for the sky, not for the sun.

The cloud that ends the sequence is the same thunderstorm cloud that chased us away. It’s kind of appropriate to put the storm in the sequence, right?

Many of my friends expected me to travel to the path of totality for this past eclipse. I had two big reasons to stay home. The first reason is I really wanted a D.C. solar eclipse photo. That’s something I don’t have in my large photo collection of the city. Second, I had to move one of  my sons into college over the weekend. That’s a huge task and I had very little time or energy to make a rushed trip south. Many parents know that well.

So, for the next eclipse, I’ll make sure I travel to the path of darkness. I really want to experience it firsthand. And I’ll make sure to book my reservations early!


A partially eclipsed sun with the Washington Monument. (Kevin Ambrose)

A comfortable chair for photographing the solar eclipse at the Washington Monument. (Kevin Ambrose)

The yellow lens flare shows the shape of the eclipsed sun in this overexposed photo. (Kevin Ambrose)

Photographers at the Washington Monument aim their cameras at the sun. (Kevin Ambrose)

A thunderstorm moved toward Washington during the final hour of the eclipse. (Kevin Ambrose)

The author and his son, Michael, photographed the eclipsing sun over the Washington Monument every minute for two hours. (Kevin Ambrose)

More eclipse images

Best images of the total solar eclipse

Best images of the partial solar eclipse

What #eclipse2017 looked like across the country