With the Exmouth eclipse getting closer and closer each day, you might start to wonder about how you can make the 62 second eclipse last as long as possible. One of the best ways to remember this event is to try and grab your own photo of the eclipse. But what equipment do you need to grab an image safely? And what settings should you use to snap you stunning eclipse photo? Find out more below.
Essential Eclipse Equipment
It should go without mentioning, but photographing the sun can be dangerous and precautions should be taken to protect you and your gear. The most important rule for photographing the Sun is to never look directly at the Sun. This includes through an unfiltered camera, unfiltered telescope or unprotected eyes. The Sun is so bright it can cause permanent optical damage to both you AND your camera. The only way around this obstacle is to get yourself a filter. Check out Binocentral for appropriate solar filters or solar eclipse glasses. As for solar filters for cameras, we suggest heading to your local camera shop – or online distributor – and speaking with an expert to ensure you find the right filter for your lens.
Another piece of essential kit is a tripod. Without the help of a tripod, it will be extremely difficult to find and center the Sun for a good photo. The best gear for the job would be a portable tracking mount, such as a Skywatcher MiniAZ GoTo mount. These mounts are small and portable, making packing for the trip easy, and are very user friendly.
Other essential pieces of equipment include:
– A manual release cable compatible with your camera
– Spare batteries or power sources for cameras and mounts
– Plenty of sun protection
How do you take your own eclipse photos?
Fortunately, the process for photographing an eclipse is much simpler than nightscape or deep sky astrophotography – once you have all the right equipment of course.
Due to how bright the sun is, the only factor you will need to consider when grabbing eclipse photos is your exposure time. But that doesn’t mean that every exposure time will produce a perfect image. Depending on your camera and lens combination, your “perfect” image settings might be different to the photographers around you. The best way to find what you think looks best is to have a practice photography setting in the days before the eclipse. Take some time to set up your gear, making sure you solar filter is properly attached, aim it at the Sun and start playing with exposures. Start from as short as your camera allows – typically 1/4000 of a second – and continue taking photos at longer and longer exposures until you lose any detail on the surface of the Sun – usually just below 1s. However, if you took your test exposures on a clear day and the eclipse occurs on a hazy or lightly clouded day bump up the exposure times a small amount to account for the decreased brightness.
A final thing to consider when taking your eclipse photos is what do you actually want to photograph? During totality – when the Sun is completely obscured by the Moon – there are many features to be imaged, including: solar prominences, the solar corona or the Sun’s chromosphere. There are ideal settings for imaging each of these features. If you want to know more about these settings you can check out this fantastic guide produced by Mr Eclipse.
Riley is an experienced astronomy guide who has been working within the astronomy community for several years. He is incredibly passionate about the night sky and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Science, Math and Education.
Celebrate the upcoming eclipse with Astrotourism WA!
Astrotourism WA and Startracks Astronomy Events are hosting a series of FREE events as part of the Eclipse Discovery Tour! Find an event to attend and register today!
We look forward to welcoming you to our friendly community of Stargazers & Astronomy Lovers where we thrive on making learning about the galaxy easy & fun!