The Solar Eclipse: Taking the Perfect Shot

On Monday, August 21st, the moon’s shadow will envelope the sun and completely blacks it out for minutes, on a straight path over the United States of America.  The sky will darken, the temperature will drop, and confused crickets will chirp loudly, thinking the evening has come early.  Do you have plans to photograph this rare miracle of nature?  While memorializing this event through photography is important, remember to be present and take it all in.  For many, this solar eclipse will be a once in a lifetime experience.      

image: NASA

The most important thing to remember while shooting the solar eclipse is to have both a Solar Neutral Density filter protecting your camera and specially designed glasses protecting your eyes.  Viewing the direct sun through a lens, a telescope, or binoculars for even a second can permanently damage your vision.  Shooting the sun directly without the filter will ruin your cameras sensor.  We stock Hoya Filters, both 77mm and 82mm, which will protect your camera’s sensor from the sun.      

With that out of the way, let’s move on to the fun part:  shooting the Solar Eclipse.  Any camera body can capture the eclipse, but more importantly, a long telephoto lens and steady tripod will be necessary.   The Canon 5D Mark IV is a great choice for the camera body because it’s touch screen LCD display so you can easily focus without moving or shaking the camera.  The Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 Lens is perfect to get a close, clear shot of the sun.  If you want to get even closer, you can purchase a 2x lens extender.  An important tool for shooting the eclipse is a sturdy, precise tripod and head.  A good choice is the Manfrotto MT 055 Carbon Fiber Tripod with a Geared Head.  The Carbon Fiber is lightweight for traveling, yet steady to avoid any shaking while taking the photos.  The geared head will allow you to tilt the camera up towards to the sun with precision.      

There is a “Path of Totality” across the United States, cutting through 14 states, pictured on the map below.  You can only see the full solar eclipse if you’re viewing it on this path.  Everyone in the North America and parts of South America will be able to witness a partial solar eclipse.  The extent of completion will change depending on where you’re located.  New York City will see about 71% coverage of the sun, starting around 1 pm, reaching peak coverage at 2:44 in the afternoon, and returning to normal by 4 pm. 

image: NASA