With August 21 on the horizon, residents across the country are gearing up to witness the first total eclipse since 1979. However, according to The American Academy of Ophthalmology, there is one thing that sets this month’s total eclipse apart from others: Smartphones. Millions of ordinary people are expected to use smartphones and digital cameras to photograph this eclipse. Eye care professionals are concerned that first-timers might train their cameras on this phenomenon, unaware of the damage they can do to their eyes.
The American Academy of Ophthalmology and the American Academy of Optometry teamed up to offer the follow tips on how to safely photograph an eclipse:
Buy a solar filter or modify your eclipse glasses to function as a solar filter for your smartphone. Cut your glasses in half and tape one eyepiece over your smartphone camera lens.
Take the filter off during totality. Totality is when the moon entirely blocks the sun’s bright face. The path of totality for the Aug. 21 eclipse stretches from Oregon to South Carolina. Unless you’re in the path of totality, keep your solar eclipse glasses on throughout the eclipse.
Use a tripod to keep your camera stable.
Use a remote trigger. With a remote, you can adjust settings and shoot the photo while keeping your camera stable.
Practice. Take photos just after sunset during twilight to get an idea of what the light levels will be like during totality.
Shoot photos of the moon to learn how to manually adjust the focus on your camera. Tap the screen and hold your finger on the image of the moon to lock the focus. Then slide your finger up or down to darken or lighten the exposure.
A telephoto lens system is a must-have for eclipse photography with a smartphone. There are zoom lenses for smartphones designed solely to provide magnification without resorting to digital zoom.
Try the pinhole effect. This eclipse effect is easily captured with point-and-shoot cameras. Use a straw hat or a kitchen sieve and allow the sun’s shadow to fall on a piece of white cardboard placed several feet away. The small holes act like pinhole cameras and each one projects its own image of the eclipsed sun.
Make sure you purchase solar eclipse filters and glasses from reputable manufacturers. There have been reports that some companies are selling counterfeit products labeled as if they conform to international safety standards.