The Great American Total Solar Eclipse
On Monday, August 21, 2017, people living in the continental United States will have an opportunity to view and photograph the first Solar Eclipse since 1979. If you miss out, you’ll have to wait until 2024. There are predictions this eclipse may be one of the most photographed astronomical events in human history. No matter where you live in the United States, it’s bound to be an unforgettable experience. There are 14 states in the path of what is being called the Great American Total Solar Eclipse of 2017. The path of the total eclipse will be approximately 100 miles wide.
NASA‘s Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio created an awesome video of the eclipse’s path across the United States.
Use a Tripod
When photographing an eclipse, we strongly recommend using support to avoid camera shake and unwanted blurring. We also recommend using a telephoto lenses (which can be difficult to hold steady). If you’re in the path of totality where the sun is blocked out, you will be taking photos in the dark, so a tripod is essential. Be prepared to occasionally change the position. Using a tripod will reduce camera movement during the eclipse and will improve the quality of your photographs.
Use a Telephoto Lens
Ideally, you should use a 200mm to 300mm telephoto lens. Using lenses under 200mm will produce a very small image of the eclipsed sun. However, a longer focal length lens will produce larger images of the sun and may record stunning details you simply cannot capture with a smaller lens.
Because this is a once-in-a-lifetime event, it makes sense bracket your exposures so you get the perfect exposure. Try bracketing your exposures over a range of shutter speeds. If your camera is equipped with an automatic exposure bracketing, use it to bracket your shots.
Use a Solar Filter (not an ND filter)
There are sigificant differences between Solar Filters and Neutral Density (ND) filter. There are recent articles suggesting the use of a neutral density filters(s) to photograph the eclipse. To avoid damage potential damage to your camera, you should ONLY use a properly designated solar filter because these are designed specifically for viewing the sun.
Solar Filters protect your eyes and camera from invisible Infrared Radiation (IR) and from Ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Stay away from jury rigging homemade filters using a Neutral Density filter and a polarizer. Unless you’re in the direct path for the solar eclipse, plan on taking photos of the partial phase of a solar eclipse using a solar filter.
The most common style is the Circular screw-on filter. Square filters are also popular and use a threaded filter holder that attaches to the front of the lens. These attachments can hold one or more square filters.
Remote Shutter Release
When the eclipse starts and it gets dark, you’ll need to use a slower shutter speed. Yu need to use a tripod and you should try and trigger your shutter remotely prevent camera shake and image blur. You can use a manual cable release, electronic release, or see if there is a mobile app for your camera. Or, use a timer release set to 2 seconds.
NEVER, EVER, EVER look directly or point your camera at a partial solar eclipse without wearing proper eye protection or a solar filter. Looking at the sun during a partial eclipse can cause serious eye damage or blindness (or damage your camera). We recommend using ISO compliant products that filter out 99.99% of visible light.