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How to photograph the April 8 solar eclipse with your camera or smartphone

How to photograph the April 8 solar eclipse with your camera or smartphone

“Eclipse Across America” will air live on Monday, April 8, beginning at 2 PM ET on ABC, ABC News Live, National Geographic Channel, Nat Geo WILD, Disney+, Hulu as well as social media platforms.

The historic total solar eclipse on April 8 is set to be one of the most photographed events of the year.

In the United States, 31 million people already live within the path of totality, and millions will likely travel to cities within that path, to watch the moon pass and then completely obscure the face of the sun for a short time.

It's a phenomenon that almost every viewer wants to capture in a photo, but it can be difficult to know what's the best device to use or how to set it up.

New York City-based photographer Stan Honda has photographed three total solar eclipses and at least 10 partial solar eclipses. He gave ABC News his advice on the best ways to capture this rare celestial event.

Before you start taking photos, put on your eclipse glasses

One of the most important things, before and while you're setting up your equipment, is to never look at the phases of a partial eclipse — when the moon partially blocks the sun — without wearing eclipse glasses.

Looking up with the naked eye or regular sunglasses can burn the retina, resulting in long-term, even permanent, damage. Glasses can only be removed during the period of total eclipse, when the Sun is completely obscured by the Moon.

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Make sure the glasses are on ISO 12312-2 certificateIt is the international safety standard for products designed for direct exposure to the sun.

This standard does not apply to solar filters that can be mounted to the front of devices such as camera lenses, so be sure to purchase a suitable solar filter to suit when photographing the partial phases of the eclipse.

Keep setup simple

If you'll be taking photos with a professional or digital camera, Honda recommends keeping setup as simple as possible.

The type of lens you use depends on the type of photos you want to take, but Honda says he tries to use two types of lenses in his photographs.

The first is a long telephoto lens to get a close-up view of the sun during the eclipse and the second is a wider angle lens to capture both the eclipse and the landscape around you.

“For me, this is a more interesting image because it puts the eclipse somewhere,” he said of the wider-angle images. “When you zoom in and when you take close-ups of the sun, it isolates it in space, and you're not really sure where you are. Wide-angle images show the location you're actually in, and often that can show people things like that.”

For amateur photographers, or those witnessing their first total solar eclipse, Honda recommends using just one camera, one lens, and a tripod.

“I always tell people, especially if this is your first total eclipse, try not to think too much about photography because you really want to see it with your own eyes,” he said. “If you spend all the time fiddling with your cameras, it will be a missed opportunity to experience this incredible event.”

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What if I'm using a smartphone?

And with the majority of Americans owning smartphones, millions are likely to capture the action using an iPhone or Android camera.

Honda recommends keeping basic settings on your phone and pointing the camera at the sun and moon during a total eclipse. He adds that it's not worth capturing partial phases unless you have a solar filter over the camera lens.

“Don't zoom in. A wide shot would probably work well, and the surroundings would come out,” he said. “I've seen good photos, some videos and even a panorama on phone cameras taken during the totality. As with larger cameras, try a few shots but then make sure you see with your own eyes.”

He added that recording a short video of the eclipse on a smartphone could also be useful because it would also record the sound of the surrounding environment, such as people in the area.

Plan for the weather

Weather can play a role in how the eclipse image appears. If cloud cover — the part of the sky obscured by clouds — is above average, it can be difficult to capture perfect moments.

Honda will be in Fredericksburg, Texas, during the eclipse, which has historically low cloud cover in early April compared to other parts of the country, Honda says.

If your plans will be in an area of ​​the overall path and the forecast calls for a cloudy day, Honda recommends being flexible.

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“If you're in a location where weather is likely, keep an eye on cloud cover,” he said. “If the weather is coming, try to be mobile…check the roads about a day or two before and make a plan to try to get to a different location.”

Even if there are clouds in the sky, it will still be darker during the total eclipse period and good photos can still be taken, Honda said.

Practice, practice, practice

To make sure you understand your camera's capabilities, Honda said it's a good idea to practice taking photos with your camera.

until NASA Recommended exercise. The Federal Space Agency advises eclipse observers to become familiar with adjustable exposures to help darken or lighten the image as well as to practice how to focus the camera manually.

“Practice a lot before April 8,” Honda said. “If your spot is clear, the sun will shine and you can definitely practice a little bit trying to get the sun in the frame.”

Enjoy the moment

Honda said that although it may be fun to take a great photo of the eclipse, the most important thing is to enjoy the event you are witnessing.

“It's one of these amazing events that you'll never forget,” he said. “I think the best thing is to try to enjoy the eclipse as much as you can, because it can be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”