Solar eclipse: How to safely use your smartphone for photos

Do you want to take a photo of the next solar eclipse on Monday without damaging your smartphone?

Here are a few tips. And remember: don’t look at the sun with your naked eye, as you risk permanent eye damage.

Don’t point your phone’s camera lens at the sun for long periods of time without a special filter.

Accidentally including the sun in a photo for a quick snapshot isn’t really a camera security issue. It’s not that different from the many photos we usually take of sunrises and sunsets.

“But we don’t recommend pointing it directly at the sun for long periods of time without a filter,” according to Google’s Pixel Camera team.

“There’s not really any damage there, provided you don’t try to do anything funny, like just leave it there with the camera open for a long time,” Ed Krupp said, longtime director of the Griffith Observatory.

Krupp suggested taking wide-angle shots with a smartphone; the sun in the photo will appear small, “but you have the scenery there.”

For close-up shots, place eclipse glasses or certified solar filters over the camera lens.

Placing a special solar filter over the lens protects the camera, NASA says.

If you’re lucky enough to find yourself in the path of the entire 185-mile-wide stretch — which stretches across states like Texas, Illinois, Ohio and New York — “be sure to remove the filter so that you can see the outer atmosphere of the sun – the outer atmosphere of the sun. corona,” says NASA.

These few minutes when the moon completely blocks the sun are also the only times when it is possible to look at the eclipsed sun safely without wearing special glasses. Totality will not be visible from anywhere in California during this eclipse.

During totality, a panoramic shot may be able to capture the enveloping effect of sunrise and sunset.

If you place your smartphone against a telescope or binoculars, it is essential to place a solar filter on the outermost lens of the latter. Placing a cell phone camera against an unfiltered telescope or binoculars pointed toward the sun could damage the phone’s camera and harm the eyes, because the devices’ magnifying power intensifies the sun’s powerful rays.

You can use black tape or cloth to reduce the light between the solar filter and the camera lens.

Tripods can also be useful. And working out before the eclipse is smart.

There are a number of paid apps that can help people plan for taking eclipse photos, especially timed outdoor shots: PhotoPills, Planit Pro, and Photographer’s Ephemeris.

What about the possibility of clouds?

Keep an eye on the forecast for Monday. One tool is to go to the National Weather Service website,, and enter your zip code. The weather in Southern California could be very variable Monday morning, with some areas experiencing partly cloudy skies and others sunny skies, according to Wednesday’s forecast.

Issues with the National Weather Service Weather Prediction Center daily maps showing forecast cloud cover for the eclipse for the contiguous United States

Any other tips for iPhone, Samsung or Pixel users?

iPhone users

In the camera settings, check the “macro control” option and make sure that this mode is not activated if you use an in-lens filter or hold your phone in front of a telescopic eyepiece. A yellow flower icon indicates that “macro” mode is activated; tap this icon to turn it off.

During totality, the ultra-wide and wide cameras can be useful when it’s dark, as well as “night mode.” Try touching the eclipsed sun to capture the best exposure.

Samsung users

On Reddit, a user who described taking a photo of last year’s annular solar eclipse placed solar filters on the lens and used “pro mode, with ISO set to 50 and reduced exposure and shutter speed until the exposure looks correct.

Another user on a Samsung forum suggested practicing before the eclipse, with the filter on, when the weather is nice. “You’ll want to keep your shutter speed fairly low and focus mainly on the ISO,” the user said.

Pixel Users

On the Pixel 8 Pro, try “pro controls” or manual focus.

Do you have a GoPro?

GoPro claims that no solar filter is needed on its devices and offers a comprehensive tip sheet. One idea the company proposed is to use time-lapse mode to “capture the most captivating images of the entire show,” but it also said it’s important to have a stable tripod and enough battery power, and frame the photo so that the sun remains. for the duration of the video. GoPro suggests using the sun tracking apps Sun Surveyor or PhotoPills.

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