Solar Eclipse Photography

Here you will get to know about the solar eclipse and how to photograph it , what are the precautions & , considerations ? , what Equipment, Filters , Tools and Accessories to be used ? ............. and many more useful knowledge.

Preface : The 2006 Solar Eclipse

Back in 2006 , during the month of March, I was spending my vacation in Cairo and it happened to coincide with a total Solar Eclipse that passed through the far western edges of Egypt. In Cairo it was a partial one.

At that time I used to own a small point and shoot Nikon COOLPIX L1.

All I knew at that time is that you will get blind if you looked directly at the sun during the eclipse.

this thick black cloud passed by and acted as a Neutral Density Filter and made my day.

image settings: 1/2000 sec - f/8.4 - ISO-50

Safety Concerns when Viewing a Solar Eclipse

Before talking about how to photograph a solar eclipse, lets please increase the awareness of the dangers of doing it.

Never look directly at the Sun with your eyes, especially through an optical viewfinder, You surely do not want to end up with eclipse blindness. Looking at the Sun through a viewfinder, telescope or binoculars without proper considerations (solar eclipse glasses , solar filters) will result in loss of vision – it will literally burn your retina!

And without proper filters you will also definitely damage your camera

What is a solar eclipse?

The apparent size of both the moon and the Sun is almost the same as seen from Earth's sky , this is because the ratio between the Sun's size and the moon size is almost identical to the ratio between their distances to earth..... Coincidence ? ... no it is not.

A Solar Eclipse happens when Sun, Moon and Earth line up with the moon in the middle.

· Types of Solar Eclipse:

And since the moon orbit around the earth is elliptical , sometimes it is a bit closer (super moon) and sometimes it is a bit farther. this difference in distance creates a Total Eclipse or Annular Eclipse.

There are also Partial eclipses where either the line up is not perfect , or the location you are watching the eclipse from is not in the path of totality or annularity.

Further information about the Annular eclipse can be found here

الجدير بالذكر أن ظاهرة الخسوف القمري ما هي إلا حجب الأرض لضوء الشمس عن القمر، نتيجة وقوع الأرض بين القمر و الشمس حيث القمر في حالة تمام البدر ، أما الكسوف الشمسي فيكون عندما يتوسط القمر بين الشمس المنيرة و الأرض مع وضع المحاق او ولادة القمر الجديد ، و بذلك يحجب ضوء الشمس المباشر عن مناطق معينة من الأرض.

Phases of the Annular Solar Eclipse

Planning the Solar Eclipse

example from the December 2019 Eclipse in UAE

o Awareness of astronomical events and continuous follow up.

o Calendar of eclipses according to your location : time and date

o Path and locations for eclipse / timings and durations.

o Applications and websites to be used

Shooting the Solar Eclipse

Precautions and considerations

How Not to Watch Solar Eclipses

According to NASA, the following materials should never be used to view a solar eclipse:

  • sunglasses of any kind
  • color film/medical X-ray film
  • smoked glass/floppy disks

The Sun’s UV radiation can burn the retinas in the eyes leading to permanent damage or even blindness. This can occur even if your eyes are exposed to direct sunlight for just a few seconds.

Safely Watch a Solar Eclipse

The only way to safely view the Sun – eclipsed or not – is to either project or filter the Sun's rays.

Projection works well. You can make your own box projector or use a telescope or binoculars. However, don't look through the telescope’s eyepiece or side-mounted finder scope while projecting the Sun's image onto a screen.

Use protective gear.

Eclipse Glasses

You can either use certified Eclipse Glasses. or :

NASA recommends welder's glasses rated 14 or higher.

Solar Filters

You can use special solar filters to watch the Sun during a solar eclipse, but use the proper type of solar filter that is designed for eclipses. Check that filters do not crack under the Sun’s magnified and focused intensity. Solar filters must be treated with care, or they can quickly become damaged and unsafe to use.

Equipment, filters , tools and accessories to be used

Camera Settings

Before jumping into details related to settings , make sure you have a Solar Filter , then ; 

1. Set your camera to Manual Mode

2. Use the Camera Live View Screen mode

3. Switch off Vibration reduction / Image stabilization modes in both the lens and the Camera

4. Activate the exposure delay mode or enable electronic shutter.

5. Use a remote shutter / intervalometer.

6. Set ISO to Lowest Native ISO (64 or 100) depending on your Camera & make sure the Auto ISO is off

7. Start with an Aperture value of f/5.6 - f/8

8. The Exposure setting is the tricky part :

a. Your shutter speed will vary greatly depending on what phase of the solar eclipse you are capturing and what time of the day the eclipse is happening.

b. If the Eclipse is happening at sunrise times , you will be able to start shooting for a limited time without filters ( like any conventional sunrise/sunset / Golden hour settings) , however when the sun altitude start to increase put on the 5.0 Solar ND (16.5 Stops) filter and use the following settings as an approximate guide line :

Using Format