Photographer Alan Friedman has figured out a way to photograph the sun so that we can stare directly at its blazing bright surface without hurting our eyes. By day a greeting card designer, the Buffalo-based photographer spends his evenings exploring his passion for astronomy, often by setting up a telescope in his own backyard.
In particular, he records these photographs of the sun by attaching a special filter to the front end of a small telescope and an industrial webcam to the back. The telescope serves as a powerful telephoto lens and the camera records images at speeds of 15 to 120 frames per second. Friedman says, “Most frames are unusable, distorted by the heat currents rising from rooftops and asphalt driveways. But a few will be sharp. I review the video frame by frame for these moments of ‘good seeing.’ The high quality frames are selected and then averaged to form the raw material for my photographs.”
He combines thousands of frames into one final image, which eliminates most of the blurring effects that occur due to the far distances. The results are these unbelievably detailed photographs. Friedman considers his portfolio of images a “solar diary, portraits of a moment in the life of our local star.” He has dedicated much of his time to documenting the ever-changing solar atmosphere and brings the bright lights of the moon, the sun, the planets, and the stars down to earth for us to investigate with our very own eyes.