Eclipse 2024: How to safely take video, photos

With the highly anticipated total eclipse taking place in April, here are some safety tips and tricks to consider if you’re trying to capture the perfect photo or video of the celestial event. 

Safety first

First and foremost, it needs to be made extra clear that it is never safe to look directly at the sun without proper eyewear, which goes for a camera lens as well. 

Even if you’ve purchased a solar lens for your camera, there are many different types of filters, according to Canon. 

"First off, you need protective filters over all gear and eyeballs that you intend to look directly at the partially eclipsed Sun, because as long as you can see the blazing Sun's disk, it is not safe to look at. Any magnification, like a telephoto lens, binoculars, or telescopes, magnify that danger. Seriously, it's hot and dangerous, and can start fires! A solar filter reduces the brightness to safe levels," Sean Walker, an associate editor at Sky & Telescope, told FOX TV Stations. 

Looking directly at the sun, even for a few seconds, without proper eyewear can cause serious damage to your retina, sometimes permanently. 

Staring at the sun can even cause a form of blindness called solar retinopathy.

RELATED: How to get the best view of the solar eclipse 

Damage from solar retinopathy happens when a person stares at the sun for as little as a few seconds, according to the American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus. 

People who may suffer from solar retinopathy could have anywhere between mild to moderate loss of central vision and it can be permanent. 

In some mild cases, solar retinopathy heals on its own. In more severe cases, the damage done to the eye can be irreversible and there is no proven treatment for solar retinopathy. 

Looking at the sun during an eclipse is safe as long as you’re wearing special eclipse glasses. For a list of approved suppliers of eclipse glasses and viewers, click here. 

RELATED: Is looking at an eclipse bad for your eyes?


FILE - Aubrey Gemignani, a photographer with NASA, tests her camera equipment at the Lowell Observatory Solar Eclipse Experience August 20, 2017 in Madras, Oregon.

Do you need to use protective eyewear and solar lenses at the same time? 

The only time it is appropriate to look at an eclipse without proper protective eyewear is during totality when the entire disk of the sun is covered by the moon, Walker said. 

You also do not necessarily need to wear protective eyewear in addition to looking through a solar lens, he added. 

"You can look through a properly-filtered telescope without solar glasses on. But you can't look through an unfiltered telescope pointed towards the sun with eclipse glasses on because that focused sunlight will burn right through those glasses. Eclipse glasses are for looking at the sun without any additional optical aid," Walker said. 

RELATED: What to know about fake eclipse glasses

What if you don’t use filters? 

We don’t advise living dangerously, and in this case, it’s extremely dangerous to not use filters or wear protective eyewear while watching or taking photos of a solar eclipse. 

If you decide to throw caution to the wind and use your smartphone without a filter to capture the eclipse this April, your phone will likely not suffer any damage, however, once again, it is strongly advised you wear protective eyewear during partial phases of the eclipse. 

If you choose to not use a filter while using a DSLR or a DSLM or even a telescope, you could run the risk of damaging your equipment. 

"With longer lenses and no filter during the partial phases, you can really destroy the sensor in your camera. Think of the bully kid with a magnifying glass, burning ants using the sun. That's what will happen to your camera sensor. It's like a sci-fi laser beam," Walker said. 

How to take a picture of the eclipse with your phone

Most people carry smartphones that are equipped with a very capable camera. 

So if you plan to use that camera to capture the solar eclipse, you must use a filter just as you would with a regular camera. 

The American Astronomical Society provides a list of approved filters for smartphones, here. 

When trying to capture the eclipse using a smartphone, AAS suggested that instead of taking a still-image, take a video. 

And, if possible, use a tripod.

Other helpful tips include zooming in on the subject and, if your smartphone is able, turn on the HDR (high dynamic range) feature, AAS advised. 

"You can even get some decent shots of the total eclipse in the path of totality that includes your friends and family using your smartphone's camera, and all you need is a tripod to clamp your camera, and the timer function on your smartphone camera control app. An exposure of one second with your phone's wide-angle lens should still show the sun as a black dot surrounded by the whitish corona," Walker suggested. 

Another tip is to do a "dry run" before the big event. NASA suggests taking pictures of a full moon to get an idea of how large the sun-in-eclipse will appear while using your phone to take photos. 

During this practice photo session, NASA advised that you should center the focus on the edge of the moon to help the camera focus slightly better than on a glowing orb. 

It could also prove fruitful to invest in a $20-$40 zoom lens attachment. 

One way to take a cool photo of the eclipse, even if you aren’t in the path of totality, is to capture not the eclipse itself, but the shapes the light casts through the gaps of leaves on trees, Walker said. 

"You'll see myriad crescent suns projected beneath the trees. And you can photograph them simply with your smartphone like any other picture," he added. 

Shooting the eclipse on a DSLR or DSLM

If you’re hoping to hone your photography chops and plan to use a DSLR or DSLM camera, there are several solar filters that will hopefully fit your many lenses. 

Click here to see the authorized suppliers. 

One of the most simple but crucial steps to taking a photo during a solar eclipse is to make sure whatever filter you are using is securely attached. 

You don’t want it to accidentally pop off if your camera is bumped or there just happens to be a particularly strong gust of wind. That could be detrimental to your eyes.

If you are planning on using a DSLR or DSLM camera to capture a close-up image of the eclipse, here are some tips from AAS. 

Firstly, you will need a telephoto camera lens or a camera that has a high-power zoom lens. 

If you’re hoping to capture the "ring of fire," you will need a lens that has a focal length of at least 300 mm, AAS advised. 

And turn off the flash on your camera if it’s automatically turned on. 

For close-ups or detailed shots of the corona, you will need a 1,000 mm telephoto lens or longer. 

Now, the type of equipment needed to take such stellar photos of the eclipse for cameras is not inexpensive. So, for those who aren’t trying to shell out thousands to buy a brand new camera and proper lens to shoot the event, using your camera will more than suffice. 

Be sure to check out the proper exposure times and ISO settings depending on what you’re trying to accomplish by clicking here. 

The best way to ensure you get the photo you want is to practice. The moon is a worthy practice target for photographers, AAS suggested. Try taking photos of a full moon because the brightness is very close to what the sun’s during an eclipse. 

Above all, don’t forget to enjoy the eclipse. Remember, an event like this in North America won’t happen again until 2045. 

This story was reported from Los Angeles.