A Total Guide to Totality: Solar Eclipse Photography

August 11, 2017

This article was originally published on April 18th, 2017 and has been updated to include current information.

Solar eclipses are a rare natural phenomenon. Total solar eclipses are even rarer. On August 21, 2017 there will be a total solar eclipse viewable and photographable across the entire United States. Over the next six months, photojournalist Dave Henry and commercial/landscape photographer and Canon Explorer of Light Ken Sklute will share articles and photos to help you plan and photograph this eclipse. Join us on this incredible journey.


An Introduction to our Eclipse Photography Project
North America will experience a wonderful astronomical event on August 21, 2017 - a total eclipse of the sun. This hasn’t happened in the United States in 38 years and is the first one to race across the entire country since 1918!
  Living in the Shadow: Tracking the Eclipse
In this article, Ken and Dave show you the path of totality and discuss the best locations to capture amazing photographs of this astronomical event.
  Choosing a Camera for Eclipse Photography
This article explores features you should consider in choosing the camera you’ll be using to capture, what will be for most, a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Choosing Lenses for Eclipse Photography
Choosing a lens to photograph the upcoming total solar eclipse in August takes a lot more consideration than the camera body to be used because the camera is simply a light-tight box that records the image produced by the lens.
  Being Safe Using Solar Filters
So far in our eclipse series we’ve discussed camera bodies and lenses that can be used to photograph the upcoming total solar eclipse. This article covers solar filters, the most important consideration for solar photography and direct viewing of the solar eclipse.
  Photographic Exposure of a Solar Eclipse
Since the earliest days of photography, scientists worked at making a successful image of the corona during a total solar eclipse. The first correctly exposed photograph of the corona during a total solar eclipse was made on July 28, 1851 by daguerreotypist Johann Berkowski at the Royal Prussian Observatory at Königsberg (now Kaliningrad, in Russia).
Supporting Your Camera...With a Tripod
Many photographers use their tripods reluctantly. In the case of the upcoming total eclipse of the sun in August, it’s a must. The eclipse is almost 2½ hours long and your arms will be exhausted if you don’t use one. Plus, your images will be sharper because most photographers will be using very long focal lengths to make large sun disk sizes.
  Planning Ahead for a Successful Solar Eclipse Shoot
A total solar eclipse is truly amazing and is absolutely the most majestic natural phenomenon for earth! On August 21, 2017 the table will already be set, all we have to do is be there at the right time, the right place and with the right gear and simply click the shutter.
  Multiple Camera Eclipse Coverage
It’s always a good idea to take advantage of technology and labor saving devices and try to multi-task whenever you can. It is possible to have one camera shooting a time-lapse sequence with an intervalometer automatically clicking the shutter while you’re operating a second camera. You can add to that a video camera documenting your movements and/or that of your friends and family at the same time. It just takes planning, coordination and equipment.
Spectacular Totality
Once totality begins, you’ll realize the importance of rehearsing this sequence over and over again in the days ahead of the eclipse. It’s the small things, like what do you do with the solar filter once it’s removed? You need to plan for that.
  Keeping It All In Focus
The last thing you need after the eclipse has ended is to discover that all your images are just a smidge out of focus. It’s the worst feeling you can have knowing that there’s no “re-do.” The next eclipse here in the United States is 2024. That’s a long time to wait. You can mitigate this issue by vigilance — continually checking your set-up before, during and through the last moments of the eclipse.
  Solar Eclipse Location Set-up
When preparing to shoot the upcoming solar eclipse, the most important consideration is safety for you, your eyes and your camera equipment. Part of the planning involves not only where will you cover the eclipse from, but also how will you stage it. For most of the country, the eclipse will happen midday, during the hottest month of the year.
Setting Up the SX60 HS
The PowerShot SX60 HS is a powerhouse performer. It’s relatively inexpensive, will generate a big sun disk of August’s total solar eclipse and is a great family camera. Its powerful zoom lens, equivalent to a 21–1365mm lens on a full-frame camera, is an important reason it can be an effective way to photograph a solar eclipse.
  The Big Day - Final Thoughts
By now, you’ve been planning for this day for months. You’ve selected your camera and lens. You’ve bought a solar filter, you’ve read and re-read all the articles and you’re ready. At least you think you’re ready.
  Solar Eclipse Pocket Field Guide
August 21st is fast approaching, and by now, you've probably read all the articles and have already started packing for the big event. We've created a field guide for you to print out and keep with you on the day of the eclipse, for quick reference just in case. Good luck!
A Look Back on Totality
It has been almost one year that Canon and I have been setting out to prepare a knowledge base for first-time eclipse shooters and those veteran eclipse chasers on how to best record the event safely, using the correct equipment to make the experience an easy, enjoyable one.
  Ken Sklute's Guide to Creating an Eclipse Composite
OK, you survived photographing the magical event of the year, the Total Solar Eclipse. Now what do you do with your images? You can print a single image, but that doesn’t really tell the story of your experience; or you can create a composite of images. You had the opportunity to capture images of the partial phases as well as the beautiful details of totality. So why not use a composite to tell a visual story of the event.

© 2018 Canon U.S.A., Inc. All Rights Reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.