I recently took some time to scan a couple of film negatives I shot of the March 7, 1970 total solar eclipse. I’d traveled to Virginia Beach, Va. on a student grant to witness the eclipse and write about it. I shot the images on Kodak Tri-X Pan film, using a cheap 400mm f/6.3 lens which I still own. I have no camera or exposure information; I think the camera was a Pentax SLR when they used screw-in lens mounts! Unfortunately, these negatives were poorly handled by a newspaper that published the item — etched fingerprints revealed in the scans — and poorly stored by me over the ensuing years leaving scratches and allowing those finger oils to do their dirty work. Given all that, I’m glad the negatives survived at all! The first shot here was made during either the beginning or end of totality. The second photo shows the “diamond ring” effect as the sun peeks past the dark lunar limb. The remaining crud in the corona is the result of the aforementioned etched fingerprints, and would require excessive, damaging digital editing to remove. Reviewing newspaper clippings and Sky & Telescope Magazine photos from the 1970 event, I’m actually impressed at how well my humble efforts compare!
I was happy to have discovered, in addition to the poorly-handled film, the full set of negatives I shot that day. It will be good to have them on hand as we prepare for the total solar eclipse which will sweep across the continental United States on April 8, 2024.