Photographing the Solar Eclipse

Photographing the Solar Eclipse

Outer corona JW

These photos show the beauty of eclipses – read how they were taken from Earth.

I shall be viewing the August 21st 2017 Total Solar Eclipse at Idaho Falls in the USA and hoping to capture some great eclipse photos, improving on those I obtained in 2008 in China. I thought I would share some of the 2008 photos and explain the techniques involved.

Unless otherwise stated all photographs taken here were with a Canon 40D (cropped frame DSLR) with a Canon 100-400mm Mk1 lens and 1.4x extender. The camera was set up to record RAW images, was set to manual, and I used exposure bracketing to record sequences of three images at plus and minus 1 stop shutter speed. I had removed the UV filter (as in the 2006 eclipse with a cheap 300mm lens I had a lot of internal reflections).

During the partial phase there was a Thousand Oaks eclipse filter screwed onto the lens. It was removed just before totality and replaced just after. It is essential filters such as this are used to photograph the Sun unless it is at totality. It is also essential to use eye filters for viewing the sun at any time apart from the totality phase of a total eclipse. 

Outer corona JW

I took all of these images from Earth in China, by the Gobi Desert, during a total solar eclipse in August 1 2008.

I used a Canon EOS 40D with an aperture of ƒ/8.0, a 560mm lens (a 100-400mm zoom with a 1.4x extender), a shutter speed of 1/4 and an ISO speed of 200.

Baileys Bead JW

This photo shows what appears to be beads of light around the eclipse. These effect is caused by light from the sun shining through lunar mountains and valleys but only last seconds.The photo was taken in China in 2008.

It was taken with a Canon 40D camera with a Canon 100-400mm IS Lens with a 1.4x extender, effective focal length of 560mm and aperture f/8. The camera and lens were mounted on a tripod. The exposure time was 1/2000s at ISO 200.

During the partial phase of the eclipse it’s essential to use a filter to prevent damage to the eye and the camera. I used a Thousand Oaks black plastic filter to remove 99.999% of the sun’s energy. Once the Diamond Ring effect was about to happen it is safe to remove the filter and capture Baily’s beads – although it is not safe to see them with the naked eye – and the total eclipse itself.  The above image was cropped to bring out the Baily’s Beads and the prominences on the limb of the sun.

Inner Corona plus prominences JW

Another shot from China, by the Gobi Desert, from 2008. The photo was taken using a Canon EOS 40D with an aperture of ƒ/8.0, a 560mm lens, a shutter speed of 1/45 and an ISO speed of 200.

First Diamond Ring JW

As it says, this image shows what has been called the diamond ring effect. It was taken in the Gobi Desert in 2008, again using the same camera set-up, except with a shutter speed of 1/1500.

A composite sequence is shown below:


Lunar Eclipses

Lunar Eclipse JW

This was taken in Hampshire, UK, by me midway through a lunar eclipse in March 2007. I used a Canon EOS 300D camera with an aperture of ƒ/11.0, a 760mm lens with a 20-second exposure at ISO 400. Lunar eclipses are perfectly safe to view without eye protection.

In terms of solar eclipses, I cannot stress enough it’s safety first – including the partial eclipse.

For the eclipse, I would refer anyone to sites such as Stargazing Live, Astronomy Now and other reputable sites that explain what you can and can’t do in viewing an eclipse. No-one should look directly at the Sun with or without a camera or telescope unless it has reputable and approved high standard safety filters.

Photographs of the 2008 Solar Eclipse in China are here.

Ones from the 2006 eclipse in Turkey are here.

Lunar Eclipse photos from the March 2007 eclipse are here.

Lunar eclipse photos from the September 2015 eclipse are here.


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