Shoot a to­tal eclipse

You can cap­ture the amaz­ing beauty of a to­tal so­lar eclipse with these sim­ple steps

Digital Camera World - - PHOTO PROJECTS -

To pho­to­graph the sun, you nor­mally need to fit an ex­tremely strong so­lar view­ing fil­ter over the lens to pro­tect your eyes

and your camera from dam­age. But there is one time that this isn’t nec­es­sary, and that’s dur­ing a to­tal so­lar eclipse.

The to­tal­ity – when the moon cov­ers the en­tire sur­face of the sun – is the only time you can shoot the eclipse with­out spe­cial fil­ters. This short event al­lows you to cap­ture the corona, or crown, that briefly ap­pears around the sun. The next to­tal so­lar eclipse takes place this across, across the USA on Mon­day 21st Au­gust.

Step 1

Find out where and when the to­tal eclipse will hap­pen at You’ll also need to de­cide which lens to use. To in­clude the eclipse and the corona around it, a 500mm lens is a good start­ing point for a full-frame camera, or 300mm on an APS-C camera. You’ll also need a tri­pod to fix your camera in po­si­tion.

Step 3

The bright­ness of the corona is not pre­dictable and is also af­fected by the at­mo­spheric con­di­tions, so you’ll need to bracket your ex­po­sures. Use a se­ries of shut­ter speeds from 1/2,000 to 1 sec to en­sure that you cap­ture this amaz­ing phe­nom­ena. The to­tal­ity only lasts a short time, so make sure you are ready.

Step 2

Once you’re on site, put your camera in man­ual ex­po­sure mode, then set the ISO to 100 and the aper­ture to f/11. Fo­cus on in­fin­ity us­ing man­ual fo­cus. Us­ing Live View mode will en­sure that you don’t ever look at the sun through the viewfinder – but make sure that this is only ac­tive dur­ing the to­tal­ity, and cover the front of the lens or use a so­lar fil­ter at all other times.


It’s only safe to shoot or view the eclipse with­out a so­lar fil­ter or pro­tec­tive view­ing glasses dur­ing the to­tal­ity. At all other times dur­ing the eclipse (and dur­ing par­tial or an­nu­lar eclipses) you can use the same tech­niques, but a so­lar fil­ter should be fit­ted to the lens and so­lar view­ing glasses worn to avoid eye dam­age.

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