CHINA> How to Observe
Lights out! Cameras! Action!
(China Daily)
Updated: 2009-07-21 08:05

No matter whether you are an experienced astrophotographer, or a novice with a camera in hand, you can have beautiful photographic memories of a total solar eclipse.

Here are some pointers:

Both digital and film cameras can capture solar eclipses. It is better if you choose 35mm single lens reflex cameras with manual control over shutter speeds. The shutter speed range should be from 1 second to 1/1000 second. Lenses with a focal length of 400mm to 1000mm, f/5 to f/8, are best. However, point-and-shoot cameras with wide-angle lenses are also excellent for capturing the quickly changing light in the seconds before and during totality.

If you use a long lens to photograph the sun, be warned that any vibration of the camera will ruin the image. Stabilize your camera before the solar eclipse happens. Use the sturdiest tripod you can. Changes in shutter speed may cause vibrations.

Disable the camera's auto focus function before you begin your eclipse shots. Make sure the lens is focused on infinity when the eclipse is occurring. Auto focus will result in out of focus pictures, or no picture at all if the camera shutter does not release.

Flash lights up the immediate environment, but it will not work if your intent is to light up the dark side of the moon during totality. Flash bulbs and other flash attachments are not suggested during the solar eclipse.

Remove the solar filter in order to get something on film during the eclipse from the time you can first look at the eclipse (the second contact of the sun and the moon) until the final diamond ring (the third contact). But for the rest of the time, make sure the solar filter is attached. Do not panic when removing it.

Safety first. You need special solar filters to protect your eyes and camera. Do not gaze into the viewfinder before the eclipse begins, or you may blind yourself.

China Daily

(China Daily 07/21/2009 page18)