On August 21, observers in North America will get a rare celestial show in the form of a total solar eclipse. Beginning around 9 a.m. PDT that day, the moon will pass between the sun and Earth and, for viewers located on or near the path of totality, block the sun entirely. For viewers outside of the roughly 70-mile-wide path, it will be a partial eclipse.
Here’s a quick cheat-sheet of the path of totality:
The spectacle will have many viewers reflexively reaching for their cameras to capture the quintessential eclipse shot: the sun’s corona radiating out as a perfect ring from behind the black moon. If you’re lucky enough to be viewing from the path of totality and intend to snap some shots, a little planning and practice now can make sure that you’re also able to soak up the experience in all its magnitude.
South Carolina writer Pete Martin put together a guide in Spark Page for photographing the eclipse with tips and insights (and beautiful photos) from world-renowned photographer Eric Adams, whose work has been featured by the US Interior and who captured stunning shots from the last total eclipse (2015 in the Faroe Islands). He also weaves in advice from Chris Witt, the senior technical writer for New York City-based B&H Photo, and Dan Savoie, senior technical representative for Ricoh Imaging Americas.
Reading the whole guide is definitely worth your time, but here are a few essentials:
- Safety comes first, so whether you plan to photograph or just observe the eclipse, be sure to protect your eyes. If you are photographing, you will need a solar filter to protect your eyes and your camera that meets the safety standards developed by NASA and optics manufacturers: ISO 12312-2. Do not look at the sun through your camera without one of these filters, and make sure you buy from reputable sources.
- To achieve the diamond-ring effect in your photo, you will need to take your solar filter off right before it happens.
- You will need to put the filter back on right after totality, so practice these actions and timing to ensure it will go smoothly day of.
- Practice taking pictures at sunrise and sunset to approximate the light levels of the eclipse.
- Practice focusing on the moon. This is how big the eclipse will appear in your photos.
- Choose your viewing location and position before the day of the eclipse, and plan on getting there two hours before it starts.
Tell Your Total Eclipse Story with Spark
Your astro-photography deserves a beautiful home. Turn your photos and videos into a visual story with Spark Page or Spark Video. For a stunning, celestial example check out Jim Babbage’s extraordinary story below. Scroll all the way down for links to his astro-photography workflows, too!
Celestial Designs to Celebrate
Whether or not you’re in the path of totality, you can take your content to cosmic new heights with space-themed designs like these template below.