Canon 300D, handheld
Sigma 170-500 at 500mm
ISO 100
f40, 1/4000 second

Hey! Down in front!


On June 5th, 2012, Venus passed directly between us and the sun, something that orbital mechanics ensures happens rather rarely. Called a transit, for Venus they happen twice fairly close together, and then not again for over a century. I actually had a shot at the previous one while living in Florida, on June 8 2004, and was even prepared for the sunrise appearance with a halfway decent telescope. But a lingering cumulonimbus blocked my view at sunrise — curiously, it might have been the same ominous thunderhead that I'd been photographing hours earlier, illuminated from within by electrical discharges.

This time, I really didn't plan to do more than take a quick peek, perhaps using the projection method with a pair of binoculars, since my view of the westerly horizon is blocked for a long ways away. Without a specialized and expensive solar filter, the sun is simply too bright to see our sister planet unless the light levels drop significantly, which would have been provided by the sunset if the conditions permitted.

However, scattered thin clouds a few hours before sunset served to filter out some of the light as well as lending a nice dramatic background (well, okay, foreground, technically accurate but visually misleading.) By pushing my gear to its limits, I managed several useful frames without having to do anything special. Well, except for squinting through the viewfinder with sunglasses as I framed my subject.

Plenty of photographers meticulously plan out opportunities such as this, and I'm happy to let them and not try to compete. Such images usually end up floating around the internet and not providing any income commensurate with the effort. When it becomes a competition amongst photographers across the globe, well, I have no illusions about how that's going to turn out. But when I can snag something I like without even trying, hey, I'm good with that.