How to safely photograph the eclipse

For days, you’ve probably been hearing about wearing the proper safety glasses if you want to catch a glimpse of the big solar eclipse.  But what if you want to capture a more lasting image of the eclipse?

The executive director of the Florida Center for Creative Photography has some suggestions. 

Jeff Donald is among those heading to Charleston to see the eclipse in full.  He has some high-end camera lenses, but says you don’t necessarily need all of that to get a half-decent shot of the rare event.

“Most people, when you buy a digital camera today, it probably came with a 70-to-300 zoom.  And at 300 millimeters, that’s fine.  You’ll get a nice picture of the eclipse,” he explained, also suggesting a $100 teleconverter that doubles your zoom.

It's not as simple as pointing a camera and clicking, though – there are some safety issues with a camera.  Looking through your camera’s optical viewfinder can be dangerous if you’re not wearing NASA-approved eclipse glasses.

“The biggest danger is going to be to your eyes,” Donald continued.  “By the time you feel your eyes are too warm, the damage is done.  It’s the infrared and the ultraviolet – not the visible – that causes the damage.”

Experts suggest using the digital viewfinder of your camera – never the optical one that passes the sunlight directly through.  A pop-out viewfinder makes it easier to avoid inadvertently looking at the sun.

To be safe, Donald advised using welding glass – but only number 14.  Anything lighter would let too much light through. 

Donald demonstrated how to use the glass with your smartphone: hold it up behind your phone, covering the camera lens.  But let a section of it extend over the top edge of your phone and then look through that portion – and only through that portion – to aim.

VIDEO: Watch the demonstration

If you’re trying to take a selfie with the eclipse, the same rules apply.  Don’t look straight at the sun, and wear eclipse glasses just to be safe.

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