With the upcoming Solar Eclipse 2017 around the corner, people have made numerous plans to witness the once-in-a-lifetime event. At this point, you probably already know where and how you’re watching.
However, you may still need tips on capturing photography of the eclipse. Using any general smartphone like an iPhone likely won’t produce great images. But thanks to the folks over at NASA, there are a few modifications you could make to radically improve your eclipse photography.
Focus Your Image Properly
Most smartphones have an auto-focus feature that should properly expose the photo, but that won’t cut it for the eclipse. You will need to manually focus the shot, which can be done by a simple tap of the screen on the eclipse itself. If you want to practice, NASA suggests using the moon.
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“Practice photographing the full moon to get an idea of how large the sun-in-eclipse will appear with your smartphone’s lens, or with a telephoto lens attachment.”
Buy A Lens
Believe it or not, your smartphones’ camera lens is highly adjustable with the right accessories. Numerous companies make lenses, and NASA recommends a “zoom lens attachment that will give you 12x to 18x.” If you don’t, and instead use the camera to digitally zoom, the eclipse will appear grainy and unclear. It’ll be an image you won’t want to post on Instagram or Facebook.
However, if you can’t afford the extra attachment, most smartphones have a wide-angle lens. So zoom out and don’t focus on getting a close up. That way “you will be able to see the bright corona surrounding a black spot in the sky,” NASA writes.
Which leads us to our next point.
Use The Landscape Around You
The eclipse is a rare once-in-a-lifetime event. It paints the sky fantastical colors rarely seen and causes people to travel from all over the world to be in its path. So instead of focusing the camera on the eclipse itself, aim your camera at the landscape and people around you. If utilizing only your basic smartphone setup, capturing how the eclipse affects the world you will be the best approach with the camera lens you have.
“Take a time-lapse photo series of the scenery as the light dims with the smartphone secured on a tripod or other mounting so that you can watch the eclipse while your camera photographs the scenery,” NASA suggests. “You might even want to shoot some video in the minutes before, during and after to record people’s reactions and the invariable oohs and aahs!”
Stabilize Your Phone
Sometimes the simplest efforts mark the biggest results in photography. In that vein, mounting your phone on a tripod or setting it along a flat surface will produce a far clearer image than if you’re holding the camera in-hand. “The vibration of your hands will be enough to smear the image and make it very difficult to focus on it,” NASA writes.
Put The Phone Down
This is a once-in-a-lifetime event and you should treat it as such! View the eclipse through the best lens you’ll ever have: your own eyes. Of course you should be wearing proper sun-viewing glasses so you don’t damage your retinas, but don’t forget to watch the eclipse yourself. Blink and you might miss it.