Planning started nearly a year ago, in October of 2016, when I discovered that the upcoming big move (from East Texas to upstate South Carolina) would put us right in the path of totality, no additional travel required. So at the tail end of February, after things started to settle down a bit post move, I reserved an 800mm from BorrowLens.com and started our research on the best says to shoot this once in a lifetime opportunity.
Fast forward to August, the Friday before the big day, and a ringing doorbell brought out the excited kid in us as I leaped over the couch and rushed to greet the smiling UPS man delivering my much anticipated glass. Tearing open the plain, brown cardboard packing like a four year old on Christmas morning revealed the hard sided Canon case, and only two small latches stood between me and the mother of all primes.
My lord, if possible it's bigger than the pictures made it out to be, amazing.
A little gentle un-packing, despite the mounting excitement at the prospect of the stellar shots (pun intended) I just know I'm going to get with this thing, and I'm hunting for the camera body. A quick twist of the Mark III body to check this baby out, and we get our first view of . . . Error code 1?!
. . .
Error code 1? What the actual &#@$ is Error code 1?! What do you mean "communication between the camera and lens is faulty?" Okay, Google here I come...
Aha, no problem, lets clean the connector pins, they're probably just dirty.
Nope, that didn't work.
How about trying the 70D; it just came back from Canon and so it's firmware should be more up to date.
Okay, let's call BorrowLens and see what they have to say about this.
"Have you tried cleaning the connectors, another camera body, or updating your firmware?"
And of course this is going to be the most photographed event in human history, so there are no other telephoto lenses available, anywhere in the country.
Hey, I was a MacGyver fan back in the day, let's see what we can do here; cue the 80's TV music montage . . . a couple days of fiddling with things (and many Google searches later) and a plan starts to form.
If you don't snap the camera body all the way onto the lens you can still take pictures. This gives you no control whatsoever over the aperture, no live view, and only manual focus, but with ISO and shutter speed at least I'm back in business.
A handful of test shots, as proof of concept, and now to open the solar filters I ordered and get them ready to go...oh you've GOT to be kidding me. I ordered the wrong size?! Get me the tape, we're making this work.
A few minutes (and half a roll of painter's tape) later and I have the newly dubbed Franken-lens attached to my tripod, wired remote taped to one of the legs, camera body tethered to the laptop sitting on a stool nearby, and I'm standing in the driveway trying to get the sun in frame and fine tune my focus.
And so it was, with 20 minutes to spare, I found myself sitting in a metal folding chair on my front walk, surrounded by curious neighbors drawn by the spectacle that was Franken-lens; my setting all dialed in and ready to go. I spent the next two hours adjusting from the hip, and snapping some of the most spectacular shots I've ever taken. It was an unbelievably frustrating undertaking, but I think the results speak for themselves.