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Photography Tips

How to photograph the Total Solar Eclipse

Timothy Farmer
March 27, 2024
A quick guide to photograph the total solar eclipse on April 8th.

We are under two weeks until the Total Solar Eclipse. If you have never seen a total solar eclipse, I would highly recommend you trying to get to this one. This is an experience like no other. It is only a short drive south on 55 and you will be in totality (where the sun is totally blocked by the moon.) If you do go make sure you have approved glasses and if you wish to photograph it, also have an approved filter for your camera. Here are some tips.


First and foremost, be safe, wear your glasses and use the proper filter. Always put the filters in front of the lens never behind it. If you put your filter behind the lens or telescope it will burn right through the filter. This mean if you are photographing with a DSLR you will need a filter in front of the lens. Putting on glasses while looking through a DSLR will not protect your eyes without a filter on the lens.


There are a few terms you will hear that you may not know.C1, C2, C3, and C4 are commonly used when talking about an eclipse. Simply put,these are the important times when the moon first starts to block the sun C1(contact 1). C2 (contact 2) is the beginning to totality, when the sun is totally blocked by the moon. C3 is the end of totality and C4 is the end of the eclipse. You will always need glasses and filters except during totality. Between C2 and C3 you will not need them, but make sure you’re ready to put them on at C3.


Two events people like to try to photograph are the Diamond Ring and Baily’s Beads. These two events happen right at C2 and C3 and only last a few seconds. Below will be a cheat sheet for camera settings. Both events will be on the sheet and will need attention if you want to shoot them, they last in total about 7 seconds on either side of totality and you will need to change your camera’s settings.


If you have never seen a total solar eclipse, enjoy it, don’t spend too much time trying to photograph it. Make sure you look around at some abnormal things happening like the sudden drop in temperature. If you’re in a location where you can see 360 degrees of the horizon, notice you will have what looks like a sunset all around you. Notice the change in animals and bugs. They will all start to act like its nighttime. On the ground you can see little crescent suns under trees or if you bring a colander, you can see these crescent suns in the shadow of the colander. This is most prominent as totality gets closer.


During totality you may get lucky and can see and photograph chromosphere and prominences, pinkish-red towers, or loops of plasma and magnetic field structures protruding from the corona visible around the moon. These are best seen right after totality starts and right before it ends. In the middle of totality, the moon blocks most of this at which point you will just want to focus on the corona. On the exposure sheet I recommend you bracket your exposure when photographing the corona. This is so you can get the inner, middle, and outer corona.


We offer classes on how to photograph the eclipse and I highly recommend it if you have more questions.

Most of all, be safe, protect your eyes and gear with the proper glasses and filters with ISO 123122 (sometimes written as ISO12312-2:2015) rated filters. Schillers currently has both in stock. The ones you have from last year’s ring of fire annular eclipse, or the 2017 total eclipse will be fine if they were stored well and have no tears, holes, creases,or any damage. If in doubt, buy new ones.

Do a test shoot at the same time of day as you will be experiencing the eclipse to make sure everything is working so you can adjust you gear and exposure as needed.


Have fun and enjoy the show.