Solar Eclipse Photography

sunset being photographed
Brooks Institute student Blake Estes photographing a Solar eclipse from Figueroa Mountain, Santa Barbara County, CA.

It’s exciting to photograph Solar eclipses, and there is the big advantage of not requiring one to stay up all night as is the case with most astro-imaging work. If you are interested in photographing the Sun, please check out the links provided in this post.

It is very important to keep the safety precautions in mind. We all know that we should not stare into the sun – this can quickly cause severe eye damage. Even if most of the sun is covered by the moon, as in a total eclipse, there is still a danger. Also, if a photographer focuses a camera lens on the sun, the image of the sun is focused on the closed shutter curtain of a camera and on the sensor at times. The intense brightness of the sun’s image can burn a shutter curtain and damage a sensor. An effective solar filter is required to protect the equipment and the photographer.

There is a more important, invisible safety threat. There are many suggestions for easily accessible Sun viewing filters. Looking through a piece of unexposed film is often recommended. Multiple layers of neutral density filters, sunglasses, welding helmets – all kinds of items that are readily available can be used to darken the Sun’s intensity. Most of these items darken the visible light from the Sun, but allow very dangerous levels of UV and other spectra of the light to pass through. UV light is the most damaging to our retinas.

Please, please, please… do not look directly at the Sun through any type of filter unless you are certain that it blocks all wavelengths of light that can damage your eyes! Instead, you can cut a small round hole in a piece of cardboard and use it as an aperture to focus the Sun onto another piece of cardboard held a few feet away. It is perfectly safe to look at the projected image of the Sun – just be careful looking directly at the Sun.

So, we use filters for photographing the sun. These not only make the image of the sun much darker so that it can be exposed properly, but different filters offer different transmissions of light spectra. Check out the links below for more details.

To learn more, check out:

Enjoy your explorations!

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