Top Ten Rules for Solar Eclipse Photography
1: A total solar eclipse is something that only the eye can behold.
This is why most first time eclipse chasers are instructed to forget about taking pictures and just sit back and relax. I know my response to that during my first eclipse was - "yeah right". Perhaps it was because I was a teenager, or because I was then, and am today, an avid astro-photographer. Either way, the result was that I plunged into taking eclipse pictures with little to no information on how to even get started. The purpose of this writing is to introduce the eclipse chaser (both novice and experienced) in what I know about taking solar eclipse photographs. You may already know more about this subject than I do, or spot a mistake in my writings; in which case I'd welcome your input for making this information more complete.
2: You can get great pictures with any camera.
There are lots of things to photograph during a total solar eclipse that will help you remember and cherish the event in the future. You do not need an expensive camera nor do you need a telescope or long telephoto lens to capture some fantastic views of the eclipse that will bring chills down your spine and provide a stimulus for never ending stories to share with others.
3: Do not use a flash attachment.
Flashes are intended to light up the forground of a picture. When taking an image of a total solar eclipse the nearest forground object is the moon. The distance to the moon is about 380,000 kilometers and light travels at 300,000 kilometers per second requiring just over two seconds for the round trip. You will have to flash, then wait two seconds to expose the film. Thus the timing simply won't work for your camera if your intent is to light up the darker side of the moon during totality. Plus the number of lumens (brightness) required would blind most people nearby and most likely cause a problem (for you, once they recover and find you). Consequently, flash bulbs and other flash attachments are highly discouraged during totality. They will not be needed during the other phases of the eclipse because the sun will still be bright.
4: Remove your filter during totality.
During totality you must remove the solar filter in order to get something on your film. From the time you can first look at the total phase (2nd contact) until the final diamond ring (3rd contact) you do not need the solar filter. Now this may sound trite for veteran astrophotographers, but it goes hand in had with a simple notion. Try not to panic! The solar eclipse is awesome to behold and as a result one will sometimes go into a frenzy. This is not good - especially if you are attempting to operate more than one device during the eclipse. So something to memorize as a basic rule is to remember to remove your filter. Hey, maybe even look through the eyepiece and refocus too! If this happens to you, don't worry, you got eclipse fever!
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