The solar eclipse is approaching quickly and it’s the photography event of the year, are you ready? Continue reading to get tips and tricks to get a great photo while also keeping your retinas intact.
The event itself: August 21, 2017
Partial Phase of the eclipse starts at approximately 11:37 AM in Beatrice NE
Totality starts at 1:02:11 PM and lasts 2 minutes, 34 seconds in Beatrice NE
Eclipse ends at approximately 2:30 PM
Photographing Partial Phases of the Solar Eclipse
YOU MUST USE AN APPROVED SOLAR FILTER!
An approved Solar Filter is critical for safely photographing the partial phases of the eclipse so check the details of your filter before using it. Only the use of approved Solar Filters ensures the safety of your eyes. It also protects your camera’s imaging sensor from damage but not all lens filters are safe for direct viewing of the Eclipse. Permanent irreparable damage can occur to your eyes if the sun is viewed without Solar Glasses. Although your viewfinder is acceptable with an approved Solar Filter on your lens, we highly recommend using the Live View option on your camera if available.
Use a steady Tripod and remote shutter cable and make sure your Solar Filter is on!
Turn off Auto Focus and Image Stabilization and set lens focus distance to infinity or pre-focus on the moon’s edge in advance.
Use Live View on the Camera’s LCD to find the sun if your camera has this feature. Start zoomed out in the widest angle so it is easier to find the sun, then zoom in as close as you can.
Using Daystar brand Solar Filters, in manual mode, use 1/1000th, f/11, ISO 400 as a base exposure. You can test these settings photographing the sun on any day leading up to the eclipse. Some filters may vary your exposure, so bracket a few stops in each direction to find what works for your setup. Always use your Solar filter and safety glasses when viewing or photographing the sun.
Solar filters must stay on your camera and safe viewing glasses on your eyes during all partial phases of the eclipse. This includes the last phase, Bailey’s Beads but can be removed during totality.
No filter is necessary to photograph Totality, so remove your Solar filter if you have one. Be sure the filter is replaced as soon as Totality ends and the western edge of the Moon’s silhouette begins to brighten.
Set your f-stop to f11 and ISO to 400 and bracket the exposure using your shutter speeds between 1/2” and 1/1000 to capture various aspects of the corona peeking out from around the moon. A stable tripod and remote shutter cable are even more important here because of the slower shutter speeds. Some eclipse experts recommend using the native ISO in your camera which would be 100 for Canon and 200 for Nikon. We have found ISO 400 to be usable with newer camera models and think this slightly higher sensitivity will pick up more detail in the corona during totality. These recommended setting are intended to be starting points only. We highly recommend extensive bracketing and experimentation!
General Tips for the Eclipse
Plan your location carefully well in advance and decide how you are going to photograph the eclipse. Are you going for the telephoto approach to isolate the eclipse or the landscape effect with something terrestrial in the foreground? This will, of course, determine your gear list and set-up. If you have a crop-sensor DSLR and are using a telephoto, a minimum focal length of 300MM is required but 400-600MM is much better.
Being closer to the Center Line does not necessarily mean the view is better, it’s just that the Totality lasts longer. Begin monitoring weather on Friday or Saturday paying close attention to cloud cover forecasts and be prepared to move locations if the conditions are cloudy, even if you are not at the center line. A shorter time in Totality with a clear view is better than a longer time in cloudy conditions.
If you are planning to use binoculars to view Totality, it is crucial to return to filtered viewing as Totality is ending and the western edge of the Moon’s silhouette begins to brighten. After all, binoculars are really two small telescopes magnifying the effects of the Eclipse, including the dangerous sun rays.
Finally, determine how much time you want to spend photographing the Eclipse and how much time you want to spend enjoying the view. You may want to simply observe the first minute or so of Totality including your terrestrial surroundings and then begin photographing during the last minute or so. Either way, have everything ready and keep very close track of time as it will all be over before you know it. Consider using the Stop Watch function on your iPhone to keep track of elapsed time during Totality.
Solare Eclipse Must Haves:
- Make sure you have a fully charged battery, plus an extra battery if possible. Using Live View depletes batteries faster and you will be doing a lot of shooting.
- Be sure you have plenty of Memory space for 1,000 shots or more.
- You must use a stable tripod and remote shutter cable, especially during Totality when your shutter-speeds drop.
- Drape a white towel over the lens barrel and camera to help keep it cool as heat can expand glass and possibly affect focus.
- Bring a lawn chair and a cooler full of water and snacks. It will be a long day and a warm one if the skies are clear.