The Art and Science of Photographing a Total Solar Eclipse

Capturing a total solar eclipse is not only a technical challenge, but also an awe-inspiring experience that merges art with astronomy. With such an event coming up for many of us, now is a great time to check out this fantastic guide to capturing one. 

Coming to you from Gordon Laing, this detailed video shares invaluable insights on photographing a total solar eclipse. Laing, who has photographed three total solar eclipses across different continents, discusses the importance of planning and preparation. He highlights key factors such as choosing the right location within the eclipse's path, considering weather patterns, and understanding the sun's position at the time of the eclipse. This preparation is crucial, as totality may last only a couple of minutes, making every second count. Laing's advice extends beyond technical camera settings, emphasizing the need for photographers to be adaptable and prepared to move if weather conditions are unfavorable.

Moreover, Laing stresses the importance of equipment and technique. He advises using certified solar filters for photographing the partial phases of an eclipse and explains the different requirements for capturing the partial phases and the period of totality. His approach to equipment choice, from lenses to filters, is practical, offering options for various budgets and levels of expertise. Laing's emphasis on practice and familiarity with equipment before the event is particularly valuable, as the dynamic range and conditions during an eclipse can be challenging even for experienced photographers. And, of course, make sure you observe all safety rules to protect your eyes. Check out the video above for the full rundown from Laing.

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Alex Cooke is a Cleveland-based portrait, events, and landscape photographer. He holds an M.S. in Applied Mathematics and a doctorate in Music Composition. He is also an avid equestrian.

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