Using a Basic Camera

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A Basic Camera is one that you would use to take a picture of some friends at a picnic. You do not need a flash attachment on the camera. If you do have one, simply tape over the flash with black electric tape in such a manner so as no light escapes when you take a picture. Using a normal camera you can capture the memories of the day by taking pictures of people with their telescopes and cameras, eclipse shadows, and celebrating eclipse chasers.

Please note that flash photography is absurd and unwelcome during totality! (see Basic Rules, #3)

  • It is absurd because of what you are trying to light up with the flash. Are you trying to light up the face of the moon? If so, you will need a much more powerful flash! And beside, the reflected light of the earth is already lighting it up (see Earthshine in the longer focal length information under Camera Setups).
  • It is unwelcome because everyone else would like to see the eclipse and the last thing they want is to be blinded by a flash camera. Although no fatalities have ever occurred due to the use of a flash camera during totality, there have been reports of some damaged cameras and very brutal threats. One of the basic rules is - don't use a flash camera during totality.

People pictures   Shadows on the ground   Eclipse 1972 after

Totality lasts only a few minutes, but hours are spent in preparation. And as totality approaches, the sky and surroundings take on very surreal aspects. This is the best time for a basic camera to be busy capturing your friends and fellow eclipse chasers setting up equipment, getting excited as it nears, strange looking high contrast shadows, pinhole camera effects, the horizon colors, and more.

After totality you can get great pictures of everyone celebrating and reviewing what they have just seen. A total solar eclipse is surreal and it is not uncommon for people to have varied reactions. Have your camera ready to capture them forever. Regular settings can be used. And if you missed getting any partial pictures, the drama is playing out in reverse. Strange shadows and so forth will be visible for a while.

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