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Solar Eclipse Eye Safety

How to Photograph or Record a Solar Eclipse Safely

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Tips for Safely Photographing a Solar Eclipse

Prevent Blindness President and CEO, Jeff Todd, interviewed astrophotographer and visual storyteller Jon Carmichael about how to safely photograph a solar eclipse. Jon Carmichael took what has become an iconic photo of the 2017 total eclipse from a commercial airline flight and is passionate about making sure that everyone gets the most out of their eclipse experience.

Solar Eclipse Countdown:

2024/04/08 13:30:00

Getting ready for photographing or recording a solar eclipse

  • Make sure you have the proper equipment, including eclipse glasses to protect your eyes, the right solar filter for your camera, and a tripod.
  • Practice setting up your camera ahead of time on a sunny day to get used to wearing your eclipse glasses and using your camera’s solar filter.
  • Use NASA’s solar eclipse maps  to get an understanding of where the places for the best views of the eclipse are. During a total eclipse, being as close as possible to the center of totality can give you more time to enjoy and photograph the event.
  • Learn as much as you can about the weather where you will be watching the eclipse and if possible have a plan to move to a different location with a better view.
  • Learn as much as you can about the eclipse times and location where you will be photographing or recording the eclipse to make decisions about the position of the sun and moon, where you will be placing the camera, and what you want your foreground to be.

General tips for safely photographing a solar eclipse

1. Never look at the sun without proper eye protection (solar eclipse glasses) except during the brief period during a total eclipse when the sun is in totality.

2. Always wear eye protection (solar eclipse glasses) when looking at the sun during the entirety of a partial or annular eclipse.

3. Never look at the sun through an optical viewfinder of a mirrored SLR (Single-lens Reflex) camera.

4. Don’t point your camera at the sun unless you’ve put a solar filter over the lens (except during totality in a total solar eclipse).

Tips for photographing or recording a solar eclipse with an iPhone or smartphone

1. Use a solar filter over the phone’s camera lens (you can also use spare eclipse glasses to cover the phone camera lens) except during a total solar eclipse during totality.

2. Apps like Solar Snap and or apps for long exposure mode and a timer can help you photograph the event.

3. Use a tripod.

4. Practice setting up and using the timer to automate the process so you can enjoy watching the event.

Tips for amateur photographers using a dedicated camera

1. Use an approved solar filter (at least 16 stops) over the camera’s lens except during totality during a total solar eclipse. B&H Photo is a good source for expert advice on solar filter.

2. Use a tripod.

3. Shoot in raw format (not jpg) for better image quality.

4. Use a remote or set the camera on a timer to take images to avoid camera shake and to enjoy the event (be aware the sun will shift position, so you may have to adjust your view).

5. Learn the manual settings of your camera for better results than with automated settings for exposure, etc.

6. Practice beforehand to familiarize yourself with the settings you will be using.

7. Use the bracketing feature of your camera to take photos at multiple exposure levels to help get the right shot.

8. Learn the white balance function of your camera.

9. During a total eclipse, during totality, take off your eclipse glasses and enjoy the experience! You will need to remove the solar filter from your camera lens to photograph during totality.

For Educators

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Solar Eclipse Photography - Jon Carmichael - "108" - a photo of the 2017 total eclipse. Copyright Jon Carmichael, all rights reserved.

“108”

A photo of the 2017 total eclipse, taken from a commercial airline flight, by Jon Carmichael. © Jon Carmichael. All rights reserved
photograph of the 2019 Chile Eclipse by Jon Carmichael, copyright, all rights reserved.
A photo of the 2019 total eclipse in Chile by Jon Carmichael. © Jon Carmichael. All rights reserved

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