Take a decent pic of the solar eclipse without investing in expensive equipment! Here are some tips for using your smartphone.
Picture this: It’s approaching 2:41 p.m. on Monday, and you’re so intent on getting the perfect pic of the eclipse that your head is buried in your smartphone as you comb through the various settings. But you can’t figure it out, and before you know it, the maximum eclipse is over, and not only did you miss the perfect photograph, but you missed the eclipse with the most important thing of all: your own eyes.
OCN to the rescue! Read our tips (taken from NASA itself!) before the eclipse begins, and get your smartphone camera all set up for success! Here’s what you need to know.
- Some smartphone models will obviously perform better than others. Don’t upgrade your phone just for the event, but if you already have one of these, your chances of a decent photo will be better: iPhone 7, Google Pixel, and Samsung Galaxy S8.
- Turn off both your flash and autofocus to eliminate your phone camera trying to overcorrect and compensate for the light. To turn off autofocus on an iPhone, open your camera app and tap on the screen and hold until the words “AE/AF Lock” appear. Your autofocus is now off.
- Reduce exposure. On the iPhone, a small sun icon will be present on the screen; drag that sun up and down to increase or decrease the exposure. Android should work the same way, though if you have a “Pro Mode” feature, you’ll need to find the EV to change the exposure manually.
- Attach a filter (but this is easier than you think!). Just like your eyes, your smartphone camera could get damaged by pointing the lens at the sun for too long. Since you’ve already dutifully obtained a pair of ISO-certified eclipse glasses, that’s all you really need. Eclipse viewers are inlaid with a special material that cuts down the light of the sun by 100,000 times. Just hold them over the lens, and you’ll get a clear image of the eclipsed sun without damaging your camera.
- Attach a lens to improve your zoom. If you want to get a closer shot than just the amount of zoom your smartphone camera provides, an attachable smartphone lens like this should do the trick. This one will increase your zoom by 15 times.
- Use a tripod. You won’t need anything fancy; just something small and sturdy that will stabilize your shot. This one has a remote control for taking the pictures.
- Practice on the moon beforehand to see how all the features work together.
- Enjoy the experience. Don’t just focus on the eclipse itself. Take photos of the landscape, the people around you, and the darkening world. In the end, your photos probably won’t be much better than anyone else’s smartphone pics (cue the Facebook eclipse pic storm!), so just soak up the entire experience and check out the phenomenon with your own eyes.