How to (safely) photograph next week’s solar eclipse [Partner]


With the total solar eclipse coming on Monday, August 21 for the first time since 1979, thousands of people are flocking to Columbia, South Carolina and Madras, Oregon for the best views — and the best opportunity to take once-in-a-lifetime photos.

While it’ll be exciting to take these pictures, you have to take precautions to safely get that treasured photo. You may not be able to take it with your phone, especially since cell towers will be overburdened by people doing the exact same thing. And NASA is even debating whether using your smartphone to take a photo of the eclipse will damage the phone camera.

A real deal camera with a solar lens may be your best option.

Thankfully, Steve Biggs of Biggs Camera, which has been a Charlotte institution for 58 years, has key tips for those who want to capture images of the solar eclipse.

Experience the eclipse with your own eyes, not just the camera. I know, I know, you want tips on how to take photos of the solar eclipse, but Steve recommends you savor the moment with your eyes instead of focusing on your camera the whole time. The total eclipse will only last a couple of minutes, so be sure to take it in. Be sure to wear the right, safest solar glasses while you’re making this memory to avoid potentially permanent injury to your eyes.

Focus your camera on only the totality. Steve recommends a technique originally published by eclipse photographer Stan Honda’s recent article: Get shots of the people around you before and after the eclipse and watch the partial phases of the eclipse, then set up your camera for the totality:  Set the camera at ISO 400, f8, 1/500 second, then take a couple at that setting. Slow down the shutter speeds to 1/125, 1/60, 1/30 and 1/15 seconds with the camera on a tripod. Go as slow as 1/8 per second, and take a couple of pictures at each setting. Test this out at night for best results on the day of.

Decide what type of photo you want to take of the eclipse. If you want a wide shot, you’ll get the details of the surrounding area. A telephoto point-of-view will get just the eclipse. Steve recommends the wide shot so you can get the full moment.

Pick a camera lens, and stick to it. You won’t have time to change lenses during the eclipse, and you could miss it by fumbling with different lenses. This is why practicing at home and having a game plan for what kind of pictures you want to take is so important. Then, only use the LCD monitor on your camera for viewing the eclipse if you’re not wearing your solar glasses.

ALWAYS have the solar filter on your lens. You’ll need this to shoot all moments of the eclipse, saving your camera.

If you follow these tips, you’ll be sure to get a great picture while staying safe and focused.

More information: Biggs Camera, 805 S Kings Dr, Charlotte, NC 28204. (704) 377-3492. Open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays and closed on Sundays. For more information, visit their website.


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