How To Photograph The Solar Eclipse

By | 08/11/2022


Photographing an eclipse of the Dominicus is fun and easy. However, you will need to use a special Solar Filter to protect your eyes and your camera.

A solar eclipse occurs whenever the Moon’south shadow falls on the Earth. This can only happen during New Moon when the Moon passes between the Sun and Earth. Although there is a New Moon every 29 1/2 days, in that location are unremarkably but ii or 3 solar eclipses each year. That’s because the Moon’s orbit is tipped 5 degrees to Earth’s so the Moon’s shadow misses Earth during almost New Moons. (see: Solar Eclipses For Beginners)

Watching and photographing an eclipse of the Sun is a relaxing activity since it progresses at a leisurely pace. The eclipse begins as a small notch slowly appears along one edge of the Sun. During the next hr, the Moon gradually covers more than and more than of the Sunday’southward brilliant disk. If the eclipse is a total i, the last remaining minutes of the partial phases can be quite dramatic and cute. The crescent of the Sunday grows thinner as the Moon’due south shadow approaches. The abrupt darkness of totallity is stunning and quite unlike y’all’ve ever seen. And the incredible solar corona is simply the nearly awe-inspiring naked-eye sight in all of nature. Certainly the almost a remarkable sight (see: The Experience of Totality).


Over the past decade or then, digital cameras have completely supervene upon film cameras in virtually all aspects of photography. Solar eclipses tin exist captured easily with all types of digital cameras. The simpler
Point and Shoot
cameras have a non-interchangable lens with a unmarried focal length. Better models are equipt with a 3x or larger zoom lens. The virtually versatile (and expensive) photographic camera is the DSLR (digital single lens reflex). These cameras allow y’all to replace the kit lens with any number of other lenses from wide angle to super telephoto. You can even connect a DSLR directly to a telescope so that the Sun fills the entire frame. No matter what kind of photographic camera you own, 1 or more of the following techniques can be used be used to shoot a solar eclipse.

Lenses and Image Sizes

A solar eclipse may be safely photographed provided that sure precautions are followed. Almost any kind of camera can exist used to capture this rare event; withal, a lens with a fairly long focal length is recommended to produce equally large an image of the Sun as possible. A standard 18mm lens on a DSLR yields a minuscule image of the Sun, while a 200mm telephoto or zoom produces an prototype four times larger (see:
Field of View Table). A ameliorate choice would be i of the small, compact catadioptic or mirror lenses that have get widely available in the past decades. The focal length of 500mm is most common among such mirror lenses and yields a swell paradigm scale for capturing solar eclipses .

The sensor size of most DSLRs falls into on of 2 categories. The
Total Frame Sensor
(measuring 24 ten 36 mm) is used in professional or upper finish DSLR cameras. The less expensive
Crop Sensor
(measuring sixteen ten 24 mm [Nikon] or 15 x 22 mm [Canon]) is used in the less expensive consumer DSLRs. Either category tin can take excellent eclipse images, but the sensor size plays a determining curlicue on the apparent size of the Sunday every bit seen with diverse focal length lenses.

As a general dominion of thumb, the relative size of the Lord’s day’s image appears 1.5 times larger in ingather sensor DSLR compared to the image in a full sensor DSLR when using the same focal length lens. For case, a 500mm lens on a crop sensor DSLR produces the aforementioned relative paradigm size equally a 750mm lens on a total frame sensor DSLR (see:
Solar Eclipse Image Scale). Another issue to consider is the lag time between digital frames required to write images to a DSLR’s memory carte. It is also advisable to plow off autofocus because it is non reliable under these conditions; focus the photographic camera manually instead. Preparations must be fabricated for adequate bombardment ability and space on the memory card.

If full disk photography of partial phases of the eclipse is planned, the focal length of the optics must non exceed 2500mm on a full frame DSLR (1700mm on a crop sensor DSLR). Longer focal lengths permit photography of but a magnified portion of the Sun’s disk. In order to photograph the Sun’south corona during totality, the focal length should be no longer than about 1500mm with a full frame DSLR (1000mm with crop sensor DSLR); still, a focal length of 1000mm (700mm crop sensor) requires less critical framing and can capture some of the longer coronal streamers. The figure beneath shows the credible size of the Sun (or Moon) and the outer corona in both full frame and crop sensor formats for a range of lens focal lengths. (see:
Field of View Tabular array).

A solar filter must exist used on the lens throughout the partial phases for both photography and safe viewing. Such filters are most easily obtained through manufacturers and dealers listed in Heaven & Telescope and Astronomy magazines. These filters typically benumb the Sun’s visible and infrared energy past a cistron of 100,000. The bodily filter factor and choice of ISO speed, however, will play critical roles in determining the right photographic exposure. Almost whatsoever ISO can be used because the Sun gives off abundant light. The easiest method for determining the right exposure is accomplished by running a calibration test on the uneclipsed Sun. Shoot a curlicue of film of the mid-twenty-four hours Sun at a fixed discontinuity (f/8 to f/sixteen) using every shutter speed from 1/1000s to 1/4s. After the moving picture is developed, annotation the best exposures and use them to photo all the fractional phases. With a digital camera, the process is even easier. Just shoot a range of different exposures and employ the camera’s histogram display to evaluate the best exposure. The Sun’s surface brightness remains constant throughout the eclipse, so no exposure compensation is needed except for the narrow crescent phases, which require 2 more stops due to solar limb darkening. Bracketing past several stops is also necessary if brume or clouds interfere on eclipse mean solar day.

Certainly the most spectacular and monumental stage of the eclipse is totality. For a few brief minutes or seconds, the Sun’s pearly white corona, red prominences, and chromosphere are visible ( The Experience of Totality). The peachy challenge is to obtain a set of photographs that captures these fleeting phenomena. The most important betoken to remember is that during the full phase, all solar filters must be removed. The corona has a surface brightness a million times fainter than the photosphere, so photographs of the corona are fabricated without a filter. Furthermore, it is completely rubber to view the totally eclipsed Dominicus directly with the naked eye. No filters are needed, and in fact, they would simply hinder the view. The average brightness of the corona varies inversely with the distance from the Sun’south limb. The inner corona is far brighter than the outer corona; thus, no single exposure tin capture its total dynamic range. The best strategy is to choose one aperture or f/number and bracket the exposures over a range of shutter speeds (i.e., 1/1000s to 1s). Rehearsing this sequence is highly recommended because great excitement accompanies totality and there is little time to think.

Exposure times for diverse combinations of ISO speeds, apertures (f/number) and solar features (chromosphere, prominences, inner, middle, and outer corona) are summarized in the
Solar Eclipse Exposure Guide
above. This guide was developed from eclipse photographs fabricated past the writer, likewise as from photographs published in Sky and Telescope. To employ the guide, beginning select the ISO speed in the upper left cavalcade. Adjacent, move to the right to the desired aperture or f/number for the chosen ISO. The shutter speeds in that column may be used every bit starting points for photographing various features and phenomena tabulated in the ‘Bailiwick’ cavalcade at the far left. For case, to photograph prominences using ISO 400 at f/16, the table recommends an exposure of one/1000. Alternatively, the recommended shutter speed can be calculated using the ‘Q’ factors tabulated along with the exposure formula at the lesser of the table. Go along in listen that these exposures are based on a clear sky and a corona of average brightness. The exposures should be bracketed ane or more than stops to take into account the actual sky weather condition and the variable nature of these phenomena.

2001 Eclipse Wide Angle

Exposure Bracketing Sequence

The sequence to a higher place was made past shooting a series of bracketed exposures

ranging from 1/1000 to 1 2nd (ISO 200, f/9).

Total Solar Eclipse of 2006 Mar 29 from Jalu, Great socialist people’s libyan arab jamahiriya.

(click to come across more photos)

It should be pointed out that the exposure table above is merely a guideline for planning purposes. The brightness of the corona may vary from one eclipse to the adjacent based on the relative bespeak in the sunspot cycle as well every bit the current activity on the Sun during the eclipse. Because of the high dynamic range in the brightness encompassed by the corona, at that place is no one unmarried exposure that is “correct.” The best strategy is to bracket widely during totality to shoot a large range of exposures. I typically shoot at ISO 200, f/nine and will utilise shutter speeds ranging from i/1000 downward to 1 or more seconds.

2001 Eclipse Wide Angle

2001 Eclipse Over Zambia

This wide angle eclipse photograph used a 28mm lens and tripod.

during the total solar eclipse of 2001 Jun 21.

(click to see more than photos)

Point and Shoot Cameras

Signal-and-shoot cameras with wide angle lenses are excellent for capturing the chop-chop changing light in the seconds before and during totality. Use a tripod or brace the camera on a wall or fence since slow shutter speeds volition be needed. You should also disable or plough off your camera’s electronic flash and then that it does not interfere with anyone else’s view of the eclipse.

Another eclipse effect that is easily captured with indicate-and-shoot cameras should not exist overlooked. Utilise a harbinger hat or a kitchen sieve and allow its shadow to autumn on a slice of white cardboard placed several feet abroad. The small holes act like pinhole cameras and each one projects its ain image of the eclipsed Sunday. The effect tin also be duplicated by forming a small aperture with the fingers of one’southward hands and watching the ground beneath. The pinhole camera result becomes more than prominent with increasing eclipse magnitude. Virtually whatever camera can be used to photograph the miracle, but automatic cameras must accept their flashes turned off considering this would otherwise obliterate the pinhole images.

2006 Total Solar Eclipse

2006 Full Solar Eclipse

A blended prototype reveals subtle construction in the outer corona.

(click to see more photos)

More than on Solar Eclipse Photography

For more on solar eclipse photography, see Affiliate 12, Totality – Eclipses of the Sun.

    Chapter 12, Solar Eclipse Photography

    Totality – Eclipses of the Sunday (2nd Edition)

    • Introduction
    • The Correct Film
    • The Right Solar Filters
    • The Correct Cameras and Lenses
    • Image Size Vs. Focal Length
    • Super Telephotos and Telescopes
    • Telescope Clock Drives and Polar Alignment
    • Camera Tripods
    • Cablevision Releases and Right Bending Finders
    • Photographing the Partial Eclipse
    • Photographing the Total Eclipse
    • Solar Eclipse Exposure Table
    • The Global Positioning System and Time Signals
    • Tape Recorders
    • Photographing Pinhole Crescents
    • Field of View and Size of the Sun for Various Focal Lengths
    • Landscape Eclipse Photography
    • Multiple Exposure Sequences
    • Eclipse Photography from Bounding main
    • Video Photography of Eclipses
    • Some Final Words
    • Checklist for Solar Eclipse Photography

Future Solar Eclipses

To plan your eclipse photography, yous’ll demand to know when upcoming solar eclipses will occur and the contact times of the partial and full phases. This information is available at Solar Eclipse Preview: 2015-2030.

The last two total solar eclipses visible from the continental The states occured on Feb. 26, 1979 and Aug. 21, 2017. A total solar eclipse was visible from Hawaii and Mexico on July 11, 1991. The side by side total solar eclipse visible from the The states occurs on Apr. 8, 2024. The 2024 eclipse is also visible from Mexico and Canada.


The five volumes of the

Eclipse Almanac

publication series include maps and diagrams

of every solar and lunar eclipse from 2021 to 2070 (each volume covers a single decade).

Each vomume available in Blackness & White, Colour, and Kindle editions.

1999 Aug 11 Total Solar Eclipse

1999 Total Solar Eclipse Sequence

This sequence encompasses the entire eclipse from outset to terminate.

(click to see more photos)

Eclipse References

  • Astrophotography Basics, Kodak Customer Service Pamphlet P150, Eastman Kodak, Rochester, 1988.
  • Harrington, P.,
    Eclipse! The What, Where, When, Why, and How Guide to Watching Solar & Lunar Eclipses, John Wiley & Sons, 1997.
  • Pasachoff, J. Thou., and Covington, M.,
    Cambridge Guide to Eclipse Photography, Cambridge Academy Printing, Cambridge and New York, 1993.
  • Reynolds, One thousand. D. and Sweetsir, R. A.,
    Detect Eclipses, Astronomical League, Washington, DC, 1995.
  • Sherrod, P. C.,
    A Complete Manual of Amateur Astronomy, Prentice-Hall, 1981.

Solar Eclipse Predictions

  • Solar Eclipse Preview: 2015-2030
  • Eclipses During 2020
    – complete details on all eclipses in 2020
  • Eclipses During 2021
    – consummate details on all eclipses in 2021
  • 6 Millennium Catalog of Solar Eclipses: 3000 BCE to 3000 CE
  • Solar Eclipses of Historical Involvement

Solar Eclipse Photographs

  • Solar Eclipses: Photograph Index
  • Solar Eclipse Galleries: 1970 – 1984 | 1990 – 1994 | 1995 – 1999
  • 1991 Total Solar Eclipse: Gallery A | Gallery B
  • 1998 Total Solar Eclipse: Gallery A | Gallery B
  • 1999 Total Solar Eclipse: Gallery A | Gallery B | Gallery C | Gallery D
  • 2001 Total Solar Eclipse: Gallery A | Gallery B
  • 2005 Total Solar Eclipse: Gallery A | Gallery B
  • 2005 Annular Solar Eclipse: Gallery A | Gallery B
  • 2006 Total Solar Eclipse: Gallery A | Gallery B | Gallery C | Gallery D | Gallery E
  • 2008 Total Solar Eclipse Photos: Gallery A
  • 2012 Annular Solar Eclipse Photos: Gallery A
  • 2017 Total Solar Eclipse Photos: Gallery A | Gallery B
  • 2019 Full Solar Eclipse Photos: Gallery A

Solar Eclipses and Centre Safety

  • Observing Solar Eclipses Safely
    – Totality
  • Solar Eclipses and Eye Safety
    – Ralph Chou
  • Solar Eclipses and Center Condom
    – Fred Espenak
  • Sources for Solar Filters
    – Totality

Other Links

  • Solar Eclipses For Beginners
  • Lunar Eclipses For Beginners
  • How to Photo a Lunar Eclipse
  • Index to Eclipse and Astronomy Photographs