Tips for taking photos of Monday's solar eclipse
Posted August 20
Solar eclipse mania is here and one thing is for sure: when the moon crosses the path of the sun creating the eclipse Monday morning, social media feeds will be flooded with all sorts of photos from anyone trying to capture the moment.
For those looking for the best shots to share with their friends or just for their own memory of the rare moment, here are some helpful tips for getting the right shot.
You don’t need a fancy DSLR camera to photograph the eclipse. However, the same safety is required on both. NASA notes many photos of the eclipse will be taken on smartphones this year, which it notes is perfectly safe with a solar filter.
That said, the same safety is recommended for whatever method you choose.
Buy a solar filter
This is just as helpful for safety as it is for photography. Much like protective glasses to see the eclipse forming with the naked eye, photographers should use a proper filter to prevent damage to their eyes viewing through their viewfinder.
However, not all solar filters are strong enough for a photographer to safely view through a viewfinder. Some are meant for photography only. Canon states filters with a CE or ISO certification are the safest route to view and take photos.
As Fred Espenak explains in an article for Nikon, even 1 percent of sunlight is dangerous enough to cause serious eye damage or blindness.
Filters also lessen the impact of the sun’s light into the lens making it easier to photograph. Canon and other photography experts recommend these filters are at least 16 stops on the F-stop scale, which is used to determine how much light enters the lens.
Many of these lenses, the company said, will likely transmit “white” light and various options provide different effects for photos.
“Non-silvered glass and metalized Mylar produce a bluish-white sun disk while professional silver/black polymer solar film produces a yellow sun disk,” wrote photographers Dave Henry and Ken Sklute for the company.
Hydrogen-alpha filters are another option used more by scientists looking to find details on the sun’s surface, Henry and Sklute added.
Most people trying to take a photo of the eclipse will use “white” light filters. One filter Henry and Sklute recommend as an example is the Hoya Pro ND100000 (5.0), though it should be used for photography only and not viewing directly at the eclipse.
NASA notes that those taking photos with their smartphone should wrap their lens with a solar filter before shooting. One way to do this is placing ISO-Certified sunglasses (not regular sunglasses) over the phone’s camera lens. For those attempting this, make sure you are not looking directly at the sun with unprotected eyes.
These are nice, especially for those hoping of taking shots throughout the period of the eclipse or those videoing the eclipse. However, since the sun produces as much light as it does, it won’t be as necessary as night photography because a fast shutter speed is recommended for eclipse photography, writes Todd Vorenkamp for B&H Photo.
It’s also nice for photographers with photography-only solar filters so they are not looking directly at the sun. This includes those using smartphones to take photos of the eclipse.
Shooting the eclipse
Solar filters are recommended — and essentially required — to be used at all times except for the few moments when, in full totality, the filter should be removed to photograph the sun’s corona, according to Canon. That period may last up to two minutes to get the perfect shot. Photographers should keep their filters on in areas that will be less than full totality.
For those using a DSLR, MrEclipse.com created this helpful sheet for the perfect f-stop, ISO and shutter speed settings.
But as all professionals recommend, practice safety before anything else.