How to Take A Picture of A Solar Eclipse

How To Take a Picture of A Solar Eclipse


how to take a picture of a solar eclipse


If you’re curious how to properly photograph a solar eclipse, more particularly with a smartphone, you came to the right place!

I had NO IDEA how much of a spectacle this solar eclipse business was going to be, particularly here in Oregon. In case you live in another state that is not anywhere near the solar eclipse, let me tell you what has been occurring here over the past month. All news stations have been reporting that we would run out of gas, and possibly out of food and water.  I feel like it is Y2K all over again.  For those of you youngins, that used to be a thing. Look it up!

All of this mass hysteria is happening and it is one of the funniest things to witness, but I am fairly positive most of it is just hype. Maybe I am wrong. If not, anyone got a bunker I can host up in? My only requirements are that you feed me mashed potatoes and tell me I am going to be safe. Wrap me in your blankets and coddle me. Yeah, that sounds nice, given the world events that have been unfolding as of lately. Give me all the hugs, carbs, and warm blankets!

Hotels in the area, particularly in the path of totality near Madras, have been going for CRAZY amounts of money. People are renting out rooms in their houses for $1,000 a night. Rental cars companies are charging at least double. If you were smart, you snagged an Airbnb room in advance!  Then there is the Symbiosis Eclipse Festival happening.  Everyone is coming here to see the eclipse and everyone in Bend is leaving! Seriously, it has been a ghost town the last few days. Where are all these supposed people? The festival?

In any case, I thought I would give you some practical tips on how to take a picture of the solar eclipse with your smartphone. Let’s face it, these days your smartphone can take pictures that a are half as good as a high caliber camera. Keep in mind, you should not be directly staring at the sun when you go to take this picture!  (I feel like this disclaimer is similar to the DO NOT DRINK THIS BEER WHEN PREGO stickers on the side of alcohol)

Practical Tips on How To Photograph the Solar Eclipse With A Smartphone


While there is some debate on the internet as to whether you can photograph the solar eclipse without the protective glasses to cover your smartphone, this article from USA Today states that Apple claims the iphone does NOT NEED a protective filter.  This same article claims you do not need the glasses for a Samsung either, but I am not sure I want to take my chances if NASA claims it would be best to use the glasses.

1.  According to NASA, you can actually take a pretty decent picture by just using your ISO-certified sun viewing glasses to cover your smartphone lens.  DO NOT USE SUNGLASSES THOUGH!  If you have a tripod that of course helps also!

2.  You have 2.5 minutes or less to take a picture of the eclipse and will require low level “twilight” photography.

3.  You may want to download a smartphone app to take pictures of the solar eclipse in order to get the proper setting! One useful FREE app for the solar eclipse is the Total Solar Eclipse app by Exploratorium, and it includes a wealth of information and some planned livestreams.

4.  Check your focus!  The normal focus setting likely isn’t going to work. Use the exposure slider on your phone to find the proper setting. Of course, if you know NOTHING about focus at all, it might be better to just leave it as is.

5.  Consider setting the delay at 5 seconds so once you press the exposure button, the camera will wait 5 seconds and then produce a vibration free image.

6.  DON’T USE THE ZOOM!  Using the wide angle lens will be your best bet for a solar eclipse selfie.  Want some practice? Try practicing on a nearly full moon!

I hope these tips for photographing the solar eclipse, which is a spectacular event that hasn’t happened in the US since 1979, will be helpful to you. If you need any tips on where to actually catch the path of totality, check this site from NASA.

Tips on How To Take A Picture of the Solar Eclipse With a Digital Camera


I am not going to go into much depth on how to photograph the eclipse with a digital camera because there are many sites that do an excellent job at explaining this in depth. These sites include one from Nikon, one from digital photography school, and this one from Photography Life. ONE VERY IMPORTANT factor you do need to know is that YOU CANNOT shoot the solar eclipse with a digital camera unless you use special filters.

If you need any other tips, there are plenty to go around and I can list others I find here. One important thing I read is that you should also make sure your pets are not outside during the eclipse as it will hurt their eyes as well.

What are you planning to do for the solar eclipse? Are you anywhere near the path of totality?




5 thoughts on “How to Take A Picture of A Solar Eclipse

  1. Jason Bryan

    Great suggestions! I was able to get some awesome shots using the solar glasses as a filter over my phone and DSLR (like you mentioned). It was a little difficult to get the focus though. Also the lens flare was shaped like the eclipse!

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