How to photograph the total solar eclipse
The total solar eclipse crossing the United States on August 21st will be the first total solar eclipse in nearly 100 years which will be visible from coast to coast, depending where you are in the U.S. It will also be visible in parts of Canada to varying degrees. Here’s some tips from none other than NASA on how to best photograph it:
#1 — Safety First
To take images as the Sun is being eclipsed, you’ll need to use a special solar filter to protect your camera, just as you’ll need a pair of eclipse glasses to protect your own eyes. However, at totality, when the Moon completely blocks the Sun, make sure to remove the filter so you can see the Sun’s outer atmosphere — the corona.
Having a few other pieces of equipment can also come in handy during the eclipse. Using a tripod can help you stabilize the camera and avoid taking blurry images during the low lighting. Additionally, using a delayed shutter release timer will allow you to snap shots without jiggling the camera.
#2 — Any Camera Is a Good Camera
Taking a stunning photo has more to do with the photographer than the camera. Whether you have a high-end DLSR, or a camera phone, you can take great photos during the eclipse; after all, the best piece of equipment you can have is a good eye and a vision for the image you want to create. If you don’t have a telephoto zoom lens, focus on taking landscape shots, which capture the changing environment.
#3 — Look Up, Down, All Around
While the Sun is the most commanding element of an eclipse, remember to look around you. As the Moon slips in front of the Sun, the landscape will be bathed in long shadows, creating eerie lighting across the landscape. Light filtering through the overlapping leaves of trees, creating natural pinholes, which will also create mini eclipse replicas on the ground. Everywhere you can point your camera can yield exceptional imagery, so be sure to compose some wide-angle photos that can capture your eclipse experience
#4 — Practice
Be sure you know the capabilities of your camera before Eclipse Day. Most cameras, and even many camera phones, have adjustable exposures, which can help you darken or lighten your image during the tricky eclipse lighting. Make sure you know how to manually focus the camera for crisp shots.
For DSLR cameras, the best way to determine the correct exposure is to test settings on the uneclipsed Sun beforehand. Using a fixed aperture of f/8 to f/16, try shutter speeds between 1/1000 to 1/4 second to find the optimal setting, which you can then use to take images during the partial stages of the eclipse. During totality, the corona has a wide range of brightness so it’s best to use a fixed aperture and a range of exposures from approximately 1/1000 to 1 second.