Technology Tutorials

How to Photograph a Solar Eclipse

A diagram explaining the process of a full solar eclipse - how to photograph the solar eclipse

A complete photo voltaic eclipse is a uncommon occasion. Even when it occurs, you’ll be able to solely see it from sure places and for a brief time period. Understanding how to photograph a photo voltaic eclipse nicely prematurely is vital.

This text will assist you to deliver residence nice pictures of this uncommon phenomenon.

What Is a Solar Eclipse?

A photo voltaic eclipse happens when the Solar, the Moon and the Earth (particularly your location on Earth) all line up. The Moon passes between us and the Solar.

A diagram explaining the process of a full solar eclipse - how to photograph the solar eclipse

The origin of photo voltaic ecplises. Picture Credit score: Wikipedia.

If this celestial alignment is ideal, and in case you are in the suitable location, the Moon will cowl the photo voltaic disk within the sky. This plunges you into darkness (no marvel individuals in historic occasions noticed a photo voltaic eclipse as a dangerous signal).

A complete photo voltaic eclipse is feasible as a result of the obvious measurement of the Moon within the sky is just about matching that of the Solar.

Right here’s a enjoyable reality. The moon is getting away from Earth at about 3mm/yr, so within the distant future complete eclipses won’t be attainable anymore. Higher take these footage when you nonetheless can.

If the alignment is lower than good, we’re speaking about partial photo voltaic eclipse.

The Gear: Security First

As a result of that is a uncommon occasion, you’ll get information of the incoming eclipse weeks prematurely, even in case you are not into astronomy. Use this time to guarantee you will have the suitable gear and that you understand how to use it.

Solar Filter

That is by far an important piece of kit when it comes to photographing the Solar. This filter isn’t there to create good photographic results. It’s there to forestall irreparable injury to your digital camera (and, extra importantly, your eyes if you look down your optical viewfinder).

The lens, a telescope or a binocular, in reality, will focus daylight. Failing to observe or photograph the Solar with the right filter will end in a gap in your cornea or your sensor.

This video under exhibits fairly nicely the purpose I’m making an attempt to make.

A correct photo voltaic filter (technically referred to as white mild photo voltaic filters) could be bought on-line (higher on astro-related web sites, such They begin at $50 or so and can minimize down not solely the seen mild, but in addition the IR and UV radiations.

This isn’t the time to play low cost testing unbelievable DIY options comparable to stacking basic ND filters.

Classic and rather inexpensive white light filters for taking eclipse photos

Basic and quite cheap white mild filters. They’re out there in several sizes.

Earlier than utilizing the filter, examine it for deep scratches, cuts or holes. Change it in case you are unsure about its integrity.

When you’re positive it’s okay, slide it on the lens and tighten the thumb screws to lock it in place. Examine the filter is secure and watch out not to knock it off the lens.

Solar filter mount on a Skywatcher Skymax 90/1250 telescope (left) and on the Sony RX10 (right).

Right here’s the filter mount on my Skywatcher Skymax 90/1250 telescope (left) and on the Sony RX10 (proper).

White mild photo voltaic filters can be utilized all yr lengthy to observe and photograph Solar Spots. These are areas of the photo voltaic floor which are colder than the remaining.

With white light filters you can easily image Sun Spots. Olympus OM-D EM-5 Mk ii with Zuiko OM 200 f/4 and Zuiko OM 2X-A teleconverter. Stack of 20 images.

With white mild filters you’ll be able to simply picture Solar Spots. Olympus OM-D EM-5 Mk ii with Zuiko OM 200 f/four and Zuiko OM 2X-A teleconverter. Stack of 20 pictures.

It’s VERY IMPORTANT that your filter is correctly mounted earlier than you level the digital camera on the Solar. Additionally, don’t permit youngsters to manipulate your gear to observe or photograph the Solar on their very own.


A tripod is a should have. It is going to permit you to arrange your digital camera earlier than the start of the phenomenon.

You may need to compete in your images spot. Notably if you would like to photograph the eclipse and the panorama utilizing a large angle lens, so plan to be at your location properly prematurely.

A solar eclipse over a landscape captured with a wide angle lens

Extensive-angle lenses can be utilized to seize a photo voltaic eclipse over a panorama. Picture credit score: BrianChorsky @bianxplores.

The Solar strikes within the sky at about 15º/hr. So if you’d like to use a lengthy telephoto lens, you’ll need a monitoring gadget just like the Skywatcher Star Adventurer to comply with it. That’s in case you don’t need to re-frame fairly often.

In case you don’t have a tracker, a Three-way pan head could also be a neater choice than a ball head. That approach you possibly can re-centre the Solar within the body simply.

Distant Shutter

A distant shutter/intervalometer will permit you to simply create a time lapse of the occasion, in addition to keep away from digital camera shaking.

What Lens Ought to You Use?

As talked about earlier than, the solar seems within the sky as massive as the complete moon. Because of this you need to use the identical lenses or telescope you’d use in moon images to get the complete moon within the body.

In case you are occupied with isolating the solar, a telephoto lens of about 300mm is a good start line.

The solar will nonetheless be small within the body, however there’s not a lot of element to seize anyway. A large aperture shouldn’t be required for this type of images.

The effect of focal length in filling the frame (35mm) with the solar disc. how to photograph the solar eclipse

The impact of focal size in filling the body (35mm) with the photo voltaic disc.

In the event you don’t have a lengthy telephoto lens, you’ll be able to go for previous, guide lenses from the movie period. For my lunar and photo voltaic photographs, I exploit an previous Olympus Zuiko OM 200 f/four with its 2X teleconverter on my Olympus OMD digital camera.

If you would like to photograph the panorama too, you’ll want a broad angle lens.

What Digital camera Ought to You Use

Any digital camera will do, so long as you should use a lengthy focal size. Low mild, excessive ISO efficiency and lens efficiency aren’t a problem right here. So cameras with smaller sensors have the benefit right here. They fill the body higher at any given focal size than full body cameras.

For instance, 1-inch sort cameras, such because the Nikon P900 or Sony RX10/RX100 give nice attain in a smaller package deal. If in case you have a telescope, you possibly can even use your digital camera telephone.

The sun photographed with a white light filter on a 1"-type Sony RX10 camera at 200mm (crop).

The solar photographed with a white mild filter on my 1″-type Sony RX10 digital camera at 200mm (crop).

Composition Ideas for Solar Eclipse Images

An eclipse occurs in 5 main steps. Every one lasts for a brief period of time and has fascinating traits you possibly can photograph.

Take a look at the graphic under for extra particulars.

The five steps of a solar eclipse. Eclipse photos

The 5 steps of a photo voltaic eclipse.

Right here’s a temporary description of what occurs throughout every part.

  1. Partial eclipse begins (1st contact): The moon begins to seem over the solar’s disk.
  2. Complete eclipse begins (2nd contact): All the disk of the solar is roofed by the moon. Observers within the path of the moon’s umbra might have the ability to see Baily’s beads and the diamond ring impact, simply earlier than totality. The chromosphere may be seen.
  3. Totality and most eclipse: The Moon utterly covers the disk of the Solar. Solely the Solar’s corona is seen. That is probably the most dramatic stage of a complete photo voltaic eclipse. At this level, the sky goes darkish, temperatures can fall, and birds and animals typically go quiet. Observers within the path of the Moon’s umbra might give you the chance to see Baily’s beads and the diamond ring impact, simply after totality ends.
  4. Complete eclipse ends (third contact): The Moon begins shifting away, and the Solar reappears.
  5. Partial eclipse ends (4th contact): The Moon stops overlapping the Solar’s disk. The eclipse is ending at this stage on this location.

Partial Eclipse

The Moon is just partially blocking the Solar.  That is the part that precede or comply with totality, when all the Solar is blocked by the Moon.

Solar eclipse photos - The Moon is only partially blocking the Sun.

The Moon is simply partially blocking the Solar. Picture Credit score: Marco Bruno.

Diamond Ring

A bit earlier than totality, when the Moon has virtually absolutely blocked the Solar, you’ll be able to witness the so referred to as Baily’s beads and diamond ring results. They’re the results of the Solar shining by means of the uneven Moon’s Limb (the sting of the lunar disk) forming a collection of brilliant “beads”.

On this part you possibly can have a trace of the Solar Chromosphere too. That is a reddish line across the nonetheless seen photo voltaic edge.

Solar eclipse photos - Baily's bead right before totality.

Baily’s bead proper earlier than totality. The chromosphere can also be partially seen, in addition to a photo voltaic prominence. Picture credit score: Marco Bruno.

When totality is nearly reached, solely a single bead will shine, mimicking a shiny diamond on a ring (therefore, its identify)

Solar Corona

The Corona could be very faint and may be seen solely throughout totality. When the Moon covers the Solar completely, the Corona is the one seen a part of the Solar, typically showing as a halo.

eclipse photos - the Solar Corona appears as a halo around the blocked Sun.

At totality, the Solar Corona seems as a halo across the blocked Solar. Picture credit score: Marco Bruno.

On Earth, the Solar Corona can solely be seen throughout totality. It doesn’t matter how good, giant or costly your gear is. With lower than totality, the remaining daylight will overpower the a lot fainter halo of the corona.

Solar Prominence

A prominence is a giant, brilliant, gaseous function extending outward from the Solar’s floor, typically in a loop form.

Often, prominences may be seen and photographed all yr through the use of particular slender band telescopes. These permit you to see solely a specific type of mild.

Throughout a photo voltaic eclipse, although, you is perhaps fortunate sufficient to photograph a prominence even with the basic white mild filter.

how to photograph the solar eclipse - two prominences are visible near totality in this image.

Two prominences are seen close to totality on this picture. Picture credit score: Marco Bruno.

Digital camera Settings

To start with, set your digital camera to shoot in RAW and use the bottom attainable ISO (sometimes ISO 100 or ISO 200). In case you are on a tripod, keep in mind to disable any picture stabilisation. As per aperture, I not often go wider than f/5.6.

White stability ought to be, clearly, set to daylight.

As a result of the Solar is vibrant even with photo voltaic filter put in, your auto-focus ought to work nicely. For consistency although, I favor to focus manually.

The quantity of Solar blocked by the Moon varies through the eclipse. Because of this you’ll have to regulate your shutter velocity.

Listed here are some shutter speeds you need to contemplate in the course of the totally different steps within the photo voltaic eclipse. That is assuming you’re utilizing a white mild photo voltaic filter, ISO 200 and f/5.6.

  1. Full Solar: 1/1000th of a second or quicker;
  2. Partial Solar Eclipse: 1/500 – 1/250th of a second;
  3. Diamond Ring: 1/250th of a second;

Please observe that these settings are extra a start line and you might tune them contemplating your gear and climate circumstances (haze, fog, clouds, and so on.).


On this article you’ve gotten learnt the essential of photo voltaic eclipse images. Earlier than you go, the very last thing to think about is to make a composite of all of your photographs to present the development of this uncommon and breathtaking occasion.

A composite image of a full solar eclipse

Picture Credit score: Michael Dimaculangan.

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Andrea Minoia

Andrea Minoia is an fanatic photographer based mostly in Brussels, Belgium. He’s primarily lively in portraiture and desk prime images, however he does take pleasure in to get busy with astrophotography and infrared images. You’ll be able to comply with his work on his repeatedly up to date photograph stream on 500px and comply with him on google+.It’s also possible to get in contact with him by way of his private web site .