The first solar eclipse in almost a century will be visible across the entire United States on August 21 this year. That means if you’re looking to catch a photograph of it, it’s time to gear up. When I was a younger (read: greener) photographer, my first instinct would be to point the camera at the sun and let it rip. That’s a really bad idea. You’ll want to prepare both your own eyes and your camera to shoot this rare event properly.
Here is a video from Nikon Ambassador Lucas Gilman on things you may need to get you started:
And here's a tip for some of the settings you may need to use:
B&H Photo even has an entire section dedicated to equipment for the solar eclipse, so you can get some of the gear that Gilman talks about in his video — everything from solar glasses, to a solar filter for your lens, or to that DSLR and lens combo. B&H even has a handy guide to photographing the sun on their site.
You can also check out a video by Matt Granger where he talks with a photographer, Nelson Quan, who chases eclipses to photograph. The pair dive into a lot more details about settings and what the challenges are in shooting eclipse photos:
Here are some of the big takeaways from the videos:
- Don't look directly at the sun, either with your eyes or through the lens. You'll damage your retinas and possibly your sensor.
- Most ND filters and sunglasses aren't enough; you'll need to buy special solar filters and glasses.
- If you're looking for a closeup shot of the sun, you'll want at least a 500mm lens.
- There's no one correct setting, and the light will change as it becomes a total eclipse. Use a tripod and bracket your shots for the best chance of success.
- Scout your location in advance and practice (with your solar filter in place) the day before, or you'll be struggling on the fly to figure out your location and the correct settings the day of.
There's a lot more information within the videos, and so take a look before heading out; you'll only have one shot in a couple of decades to get it right.
Images used with permission, courtesy of Nikon.