Total Eclipse of the Country: Six photo tips for The Great American Eclipse

Total Eclipse of the Country: Six photo tips for The Great American Eclipse

Unless you have been hiding behind a big moon-sized rock all year, you’ve probably heard that this Monday, August 21st is the “Great American Eclipse.” This will not only be the first total solar eclipse visible over the United States in nearly 40 years, but also the first to cross coast to coast since 1918! We’ve got your total guide to everything eclipse and how to get the best shot of the most photographed event in 2017!

First, you may be wondering: okay, what’s a total solar eclipse, and why is it such a big deal? The answer is simple: a total eclipse occurs when the moon passes directly between the sun and the Earth. During this journey, the moon completely blocks the sun and casts its shadow onto the Earth. The reason this is such a big deal is because this is the first total eclipse to pass over the US since 1979, and it won’t happen again until 2045!

And the good news? At a minimum, partial eclipses of varying intensity will pass over every state in the country but some lucky areas (Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Nebraska, Missouri, Tennessee, and South Carolina) are going to get to see the total eclipse of the sun! For more information on what and when you can see check out this friendly interactive map. Just type in your city and then you can even click on the interactive map to get the best time to view!

Not sure, if that is better than the fact that Bonnie Tyler will be singing her hit 1983 song “Total Eclipse of the Heart” during the actual eclipse! Be still my beating heart.

PLEASE NOTE: do not look directly at the eclipse without eclipse glasses. This is a reminder that you are looking at the sun… you know the flaming ball of gas and fire that provides light to the entire Earth on a daily basis. So please, be safe and smart during this incredible phenomenon. You don’t want to end up like Marge Simpson with some seriously scorched retinas – ouch!

Now that we have a good idea of what this moment is and why it is going to be the most photographed moment of the year, here are six helpful tips we have collected to make sure that you don’t end photographing a bunch of blobs of light at the end of the day.

1)     Yes, your smartphone camera will work

You don’t need a DSLR camera for a great shot. You can snap away photos with your iPhone or Android device. This shouldn’t cause damage, but you can also use those handy eclipse shades for your phone as well. Hold them in front of the lens for extra protection.

2)     Practice makes perfect

How often do you take pictures of the sun and moon? Unless the answer is “every day,” (also why?) take some practice shots of the moon to get an idea of how large things will appear and how to position your camera. Practice using your finger to adjust the focus of your camera and learning how the size and light comes in.


3)     Auto-focus is not your friend

Auto-focus is great, but only when taking pictures of large images and light sources. You’ll need to be a bit more manual in your approach: decide where you want the focus to set and slide it as you need.

4)     Take pictures at multiple phases

The total eclipse process will last somewhere around two hours (depending on where you are), but the actual peak will only last a couple short minutes or less! Make sure to snap some pictures of the various phases of the moon’s path so you get a true representation of event.

5)     Don’t use a viewfinder

Remember: what you are trying to photograph? It’s a big flaming ball of light, so don’t use your view finder to peak a look. Use the digital display to be smart and safe!

6)     Get some gear if you want

A tripod or additional filter or zoom can really add to the value of your photos. However, while it’s not necessary, make sure to practice with your equipment so that you aren’t fumbling around when the big moment comes!

Get excited! The Great American Eclipse only comes about every 40 years; the next one won’t be until 2045! So get your glasses on, check the map for details so you know when to be ready, turn up the Bonnie Tyler, and enjoy one of the celestial marvels!

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