I’ve been getting this question a lot — “how can I take awesome pics of the solar eclipse?!”
Especially with the upcoming total Solar Eclipse on Monday, August 21.
[The cover photo for this post is from NASA].
Let’s jump right into it.
Firstly, you need to protect your eyes.
I know you’ve seen everyone and their brother selling those solar eclipse glasses. Don’t go with the cheapest, go with the safest. Joe from down the street may not realize he’s selling you some shades that won’t do diddly squat when you’re staring at the sun.
Which is literally what you’re going to be doing.
Staring. At. The. Sun.
And while Amazon has thousands of sellers claiming to have these special glasses for you, NASA recognizes only a handful of manufacturers with glasses that meet the safety criteria.
Here are some of them:
American Paper Optics
Thousand Oaks Optical
NASA also notes: “More than 6,800 libraries across the U.S. are distributing safety-certified glasses. Many are working with scientists to hold viewing events and activities before and during the eclipse. For a listing of participating libraries, visit:
Next, you need to protect your equipment.
These next few tips are for if you are using a digital DSLR camera. If you aren’t, you can skip on down to the bottom!
Camera lenses really aren’t meant to be facing directly into the sun for prolonged periods of time, just like our eyes.
You are going to need a solar filter for your camera lens.
Well, because that sunlight is even more intense inside the lens — and pointing it directly at the sun can cause damage to the lens itself. And your camera shutter. And your imaging sensor. And … just about anything that’s pointing directly at the sun unprotected.
So, first, decide on which lens to use. We recommend a telephoto lens since it will have a nice zoom. 70-200mm should do the trick. But, if you have anything bigger — go for it. Your shots will be even more amazing!
Get a solar filter similar to this. It’s not cheap, but it’s a lot cheaper than having to buy new camera equipment.
Next, you’ll need a tripod.
You need a steady shot for this. You don’t wanna be all loosey goosey like our friend Aidan above.
And, you don’t want to be stuck holding your camera the entirety of the eclipse. You can go cheap on this option! Any ol’ tripod will do.
Lastly, Practice, Like a True Graduate! And Mess With Your Camera Settings
Once you’ve gotten your filter onto your camera, and put a piece of black tape over the viewfinder (you want to use the camera screen for these shots, you don’t want to look through the viewfinder), and set up the tripod and camera — practice by taking photos of the sun. Use your solar eclipse glasses while you’re doing this as well.
Now, we’re gonna get technical.
Make sure you set your camera to manual, and make sure you have your flash off [during the entirety of the eclipse].
You’ll need to adjust your aperture, exposure time, and ISO.
You can adjust the aperture on your telephoto lens. Aperture is the hole in which light passes through your camera. In other words, it’s the opening where light enters your camera.
Smaller numbers mean wider apertures. You want something wide for these shots!
Exposure time is literally just that — exposure. It’s how long your cam’s imaging sensor is exposed to light.
This will change throughout the eclipse, because as the moon covers the sun, less of it is showing, and therefore that imagine sensor won’t be exposed to light as long.
So, as the moon starts to cover the sun — you can lengthen the exposure more and more.
Next is what I would argue is the most important part — the ISO. This has to do with your camera’s imaging sensor and how much light you’re letting in. If you have a high ISO setting, your camera will be super sensitive to light because it lets more in. It also increases the brightness of the photograph (but increases graininess).
When the sun is still bein’ its glowing self, you won’t need a high ISO. ‘Cause the sun is brighter than those blinding white Christmas lights your grandma used to string up outside her house every year.
Howeverrrr, since this is an eclipse we are talking about — the moon is going to cover up granny’s Christmas lights, AKA the sun. When that happens, you are going to need to raise that ISO.
Don’t Wanna Do Any Of This On Your DSLR?
The coolest thing — if you are in the line of totality — which means you are in an area where you can see the moon COMPLETELY cover the sun for approximately 2 minutes, photos can be taken during this period only WITHOUT a solar filter.
Still gonna need that tripod, though. And you’re still gonna need to raise your ISO.
Wanna Use Your iPhone?
NASA says go ahead. The lens is probably too small to get any sort of damage from the sunlight. They do sell telephoto lenses you can attach to your iPhone, too, since the iPhone’s natural zoom is pretty puny.
And, regardless, make sure you’re still wearing your solar glasses!
I hope this was helpful! I can’t wait to see all of your pics!
And, above all else, make sure you take a moment during the totality to look AWAY from your camera and at the actual event itself!
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