Sunday, 5 March 2017

Eclipse 2017 - To Photograph or Not (Part 5)

If you have read the previous posts, we reached the point where you decided to photograph it. No more debate on that point. Now the question has come up about using a smart phone.


I am going to state right away that my experience with a smart phone is minimal. The lens size is too small to do any good. It is kind of smart but does not account for a smart user, one that knows what settings will work. And that bloody autofocus simply will not cut it.

So the first thing I've learned is that if you want to use a smart phone and it does not allow for settings where the user is controlling the smarts, forget it. Use it to get people pictures before and after. And do make sure that flash is set of always off.


It is pretty amazing what a small lens and chip can "see" though. Wide field images are great while close ups may be relying a bit too much on software to clean up the image. There are also attachments for the phones to add a macro lens on the front. This increases the magnification of the system. Lunar experiments show it has a strong potential to achieve satisfactory results.

I am interested in seeing the results after this next eclipse. Are you an eclipse chaser yet?

But let me toss out a few cautions and tips.

  • Turn off the flash. Cover it with black electrical tape just to be sure.
  • Be aware of what and who is around you.
  • Set the screen brightness to minimum for totality.
  • Don't hold the camera up in the air, hold it steady in front of you.
  • Being seated lets you use your knees to help keep the camera steady.
  • The flash is a real problem, make sure it is off.
  • Experiment by taking pictures of the Moon to learn approximate settings.
  • A decent image of the gibbous to full moon phase is a good setting for the diamond ring.
  • The settings from a good image of the thin crescent moon phase works for a nice corona.
  • No selfies during totality, you are missing the eclipse!
  • To show lots of corona, use the settings of a good image of the earth shine.
  • Make sure you have plenty of battery power before the eclipse starts.
  • Turn off the flash. Really.

There are also after market mounts to help hold the smart camera phone steady. If you are going to shoot longer exposures or make a movie then you really want to have one.

Making a short movie with the smart phone could be fun. Showing people as shadows against the brighter sky and hearing the comments is pretty easy to set up. Just start the movie mode and mount the camera in a sturdy way behind you. It should catch your reactions and the eclipse sky.

Above all, don't get obsessed with taking pictures during totality. Experience it!


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