How To Photograph A Solar Eclipse – Our Ultimate Solar Guide

Being present during a solar eclipse is a breathtaking sight, and is why many photographers travel across the globe to experience these phenomenal events all across the world.

With so many different events happening in a Total Solar Eclipse such as Diamond Ring, Baily’s Beads, Crescents on the ground, and Pearly white Corona in the sky, It’s easy to miss the opportunity to photograph one of them.

Throughout this article, I’ll explain what you’ll need, what to look for, and how to set up your gear to get the best image possible during an eclipse. 

All this can be photographed using a Digital SLR camera, and some prior planning. So by the end of this article, you’ll know how to photograph a solar eclipse and all the phases during one.

Diamond Ring eclipse
Diamond Ring event captured during a total solar eclipse.
Table Of Contents show

What is a Solar Eclipse?

When the Moon moves directly in between the Sun and Earth and casts a shadow directly onto Earth, causing a perfect celestial line up of the Sun, Moon, and Earth (in that order), thus it produces a spectacular phenomenon – a Solar Eclipse. 

When you travel to be within the path of the celestial line-up, it is a mind-blowing experience and perhaps the most amazing natural phenomenons you’ll ever see.

I have been traveling to watch solar eclipses since 1995, and I always find a fascinating new aspect, without fail, in every eclipse. There are so many ways to photograph the numerous events that happen during a total solar eclipse.

The great thing about a solar eclipse is the date, time, and the location is precise and can be known and planned well in advance. 

The shadow cast from an eclipse covers the entire half of the Earth (the half facing the Sun and Moon), in a narrow path. 

diagram of how a solar eclipse works
Moon orbits in-between the Sun and Earth, casting a shadow (Solar Eclipse) for a brief moment.

For the best viewing though, you need to be within this narrow path. Outside the path of a total solar eclipse, even if you are just a few miles out, or even if you are at a location where you can witness 99% coverage, it becomes a partial solar eclipse. It is nothing compared to the experience of totality.

Types of Solar Eclipses

There are four variations of a solar eclipse that can occur. Depending on moons location (distance) from the Earth and the Sun will determine which of the following solar eclipses will occur.

The eclipse type also depends if the line up of the Sun, Moon, and Earth is perfect or not, indicating that a central or a non-central eclipse will occur.

Total Solar Eclipse

total solar eclipse
A total solar eclipse.

When the size of the Moon is larger than the Sun, the Sun gets covered completely. It is a Total Solar Eclipse, and the Corona, atmosphere of the Sun, is visible with the naked eyes.

The Total Solar Eclipse is the most fascinating and sought after phenomenon of an eclipse. However, there is some variation of a solar eclipse occurring a few days short of every six months.

It is rare for a solar eclipse to re-occur at a particular location, on an average occurring after an average of 350 years at the same place. People travel long distances and across the world to photograph total solar eclipses.

Annular Solar Eclipse

Annular Solar Eclipse
Annular Solar Eclipse.

When the size of the Moon is smaller than the Sun, and is not able to completely cover the eclipse, and it leaves a bright ring of Sun’s periphery visible. 

Hybrid Solar Eclipse

This type of eclipse changes between Total and Annular while the shadow traverses across the Earth’s diameter.

Partial Solar Eclipse

It is also known as a non-central eclipse. The shadow of the Moon misses the Earth. Only a part of the Sun would be covered by the Moon, as seen from a limited region on the Earth.

Even central eclipses outside of the path of totality or annularity would appear as partial eclipses.

Partial Solar Eclipse
Partial Solar Eclipse

How long does a solar eclipse last?

The entire duration of a solar eclipse lasts more or less three hours. The moment when the Moon touches the Sun externally is known as First Contact. 

The 5 Phases Of A Solar Eclipse

5 phases of a Solar Eclipse
The 5 phases of a Solar Eclipse. Photo Credit: (NASA/Aubrey Gemignani)
  • Phase 1 – First Contact: The moment when the Moon touches the Sun externally is known as First Contact.
  • Phase 2 – Second Contact: The moment when the Moon covers the entire Sun completely is known as the Second Contact.
  • Phase 3 – Totality: The most impressive and intense phase. The Moon has now completely covered the Sun and has plunged the Earth into darkness. It’s also been known for the temperature to fall during totality.
  • Phase 4 – Third Contact: Third Contact is when the Sun re-appears after totality
  • Phase 5 – Fourth Contact: Fourth Contact is when the Moon leaves the disk of the Sun completely.

Even though all those phases mentioned above are great events in their own right, the most sought after phase of a solar eclipse is known as totality…

What Is Totality?

The short duration between the Second Contact phase and the Third Contact phase is of particular interest to photographers. It is called ‘Totality’ and only lasts from a few seconds up to a maximum of seven minutes. 

Around the totality phase, there are so many different kinds of quick-paced events that occur on the Sun, not just in the sky but all around on Earth that are great to photograph. 

The only downside to the micro-events that happen around totality is almost as quick as they’ve commenced, they are over. So you really need to be prepared and ready to photograph each of those moments, respectively. I discuss how to shoot each of those later on in this article.

a solar eclipse going through the stage of totality
a solar eclipse going through the stages of totality

Beginning Of Totality

A few minutes before the second contact, the Sun turns into a thin crescent. There are numerous crescents scattered all over below trees. The crescent becomes slender until the high peaks on the edge of the Moon cut the solar crescent into parts. These are called Baily’s Beads. 

Within seconds Baily’s beads grow smaller, the last bead remaining forms a Diamond Ring. The pink chromosphere, the thin outer layer of the Sun is visible, but just briefly.

As the diamond ring disappears, the shadow of the Moon quickly races over you at high speed. On the horizon, you can see sunset hues as if the Sun is setting not in one direction, but all around you.

During Totality

Totality is one of the most breathtaking sights that you will witness. The Sun’s bright disk is completely covered from view. In its place is the black disk of the Moon silhouetted against the Sun’s exquisitely beautiful solar corona. 

Pearly white Corona shimmers are visible to the naked eye. It’s a fantastic sight, and your eyes can trace the corona till far. Pink prominences and flares are visible on the edge of the Sun.

Ending Of Totality

The Diamond ring appears on the western side, captivating you again, but meaning totality has ended almost as quickly as it started. 

All the events that happened before the second contact will happen again in reverse after the third contact. Also, the temperature would slowly rise back to normal. 

Can you photograph a solar eclipse with just a DSLR?

Yes, you can. All of these unique events, big and small, in the sky or on the ground, are worth photographing and can be captured using a DSLR camera. 

These different events require different methods of photography and settings, some straightforward, some more complicated, and some needing special equipment alongside the DSLR.

Safety precautions when viewing or photographing a solar eclipse

solar eclipse glasses
If you want to view a solar eclipse, solar eclipse glasses are a must for safety.

Solar Eclipses are fascinating astronomical events that can be safely seen if certain precautions are taken. 

Never directly view any of the partial phases (of any kind) of a solar eclipse, whether it is with the naked eye or with a viewfinder, an unprotected view of the Sun can cause some severe damage to your eyes. 

Even when most of the Sun’s surface is covered during the partial phases of a solar eclipse, what remains of the Sun is still intensely bright and requires solar glasses if you want to view them. 

Never watch any kind of solar eclipse without the aid of proper and certified eclipse filters.

Eye protectors for direct observation of the Sun should be worn so that no direct radiation from the Sun can reach your eye other than that passing through the filter. 

The only time it is safe to view the Sun without eye protection is when the Moon completely covers the photosphere in total eclipse (as seen in the image below).

It’s unsafe to look directly at the Sun during a solar eclipse without any eye protection, except for the brief moment of “Totality” (Image Credit: NASA)

Equipment Needed For Photographing A Solar Eclipse


Although any camera can be used for eclipse photography, a Digital SLR camera is most suited since you can change lenses and plan for photography using various focal lengths. 

The recent mirrorless, as well as traditional DSLRs, are suited. The best part about DSLR cameras is that they can be connected to a laptop, and the entire eclipse photography be automated. This gives you a chance to observe the eclipse with your eyes or a pair of binoculars.

Camera Lens or Telescope?

Adjusting the camera view during a solar eclipse at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex (Image credit: NASA/Ben Smegelsky)

Either a camera lens or a telescope can be used for shooting various events of the solar eclipse. While long focal length lenses such as 400mm and above can be on the expensive side, the benefit of using camera lenses is that the aperture can be controlled effectively. 

When using a telescope, you have no control over the aperture since it is fixed, but many astrophotographers already have telescopes, refractors, and reflectors of long focal length. Telescopes are readily available in the range above 500mm and going up to 2000mm, and are priced relatively cheaper.

Focal Length, Wide-angle, or Super Telephoto?

A shorter focal length lens will produce a smaller image of the Sun on your sensor, and a longer focal length will produce a larger diameter of the Sun on the sensor. 

Focal Length Formula

The formula to calculate the diameter image of the Sun on a digital camera sensor is:

The focal length of the lens / 110 = Diameter of the Sun on Sensor

Focal Length Size of Sun’s image:

  • 200mm lens 1.8 mm
  • 400mm lens 3.63 mm
  • 800mm lens 7.27 mm
  • 1000mm lens 9.09 mm
  • 2000mm lens 18.18 mm

The smaller dimension of a usual crop sensor in DSLR cameras is approximately 14.8mm, in which case a 1500mm lens image of the Sun would fit within the sensor but would be a tight fit, and you would need an accurate equatorial mount to track the Sun continuously. 

To photograph the various events in a Solar Eclipse, would require different focal lengths for the various phases.

Solar Filters

Different types of solar filters are available, from the visual use kind, that are darker and allows less light to pass through.

You can choose solar filters that provide a neutral white image of the Sun or those that give a natural yellow-orange color.

Several companies offer solar filters that are slightly brighter and are meant for photographic use. Solar filters are available in sheets of 12-inch squares. 

Many photographers also like to construct their DIY Filters made using Mylar, photo film, or glass. Filters can also be made using card paper and sandwiching the filter between. You can find the instructions to build one yourself here.

You will need a solar filter for every camera that you intend to use during the eclipse. Note, Solar filters always go in front of the telescope or camera lens.


A sturdy tripod is a must for solar eclipse photography, the longer the focal length that you intend to use, the sturdier the tripod needs to be. 

If the altitude of the eclipse is high up in the sky from your location, you need to be check that the tripod will allow you to point up at that altitude.

Most experienced photographers prefer to use a tracking equatorial mount. The benefit of such a mount is that once you point the camera and a long focal length lens or telescope at the Sun, the mount keeps following it precisely. 

Equatorial mounts are sturdy, and you can mount several cameras on top of the mount.

Equatorial mount with several cameras mounted for eclipse photography. In the background, you can see the Ooty Radio Telescope, India.

Remote shutter

A remote shutter release is an essential and cheap accessory for solar eclipse photography to eliminate the possibility of accidentally nudging or bumping the camera, especially since if using long focal length lenses, any movement will be very noticeable in your images.

Various kinds of remote shutters are available from 3rd party intervalometers to built-in ones. All recent cameras have in-built intervalometers, or you can opt for an external wired intervalometer.

I find an external wired intervalometer to be much more dependable. These can be programmed to trigger the shutter repeatedly at regular intervals. 

Automated Eclipse Photography

Seasoned eclipse chasers like to observe the eclipse much more than photographing it, and leave all the photography work automated. The best software to automate all your eclipse photography is free software made by the French eclipse chaser Xavier Jubier, Solar Eclipse Maestro. It can be downloaded from his website

Solar Eclipse Maestro's homepage
screenshot of Solar Eclipse Maestro’s homepage, where you can download the software.

Solar Eclipse Maestro works on a Mac and can control up to four DSLRs simultaneously. It can calculate the exact local circumstances from the attached USB GPS. You can write scripts of exposures, brackets. 

The exposures can be timed either in regular intervals or timed with the contact point timings. The Solar Eclipse Maestro software calculates precise contact point timings that are happening at your location. You can even include a burst of images during cloud-free moments. 

The software is quite versatile, but with so many options and configurations, you really do need to practice and test your setup beforehand.

How to photograph a Solar Eclipse?

camera setup for solar eclipse
Photographers setting up their gear for a solar eclipse.

How To Focus On The Sun

Never depend on the autofocus feature of the camera, it may fail if it doesn’t find a suitable object to focus on. Autofocusing on faraway landscape features is not recommended, as the autofocus on the Sun on infinity would be slightly blurred.

Manual focusing must be completed beforehand and focus locked using masking tape. If you are using a long focal length such as 800-1000mm, You need to focus on the Sun using live view to help visually see if your focus is sharp or not. 

Have patience and spend some time focusing. Since you are focusing in the daytime, come prepared with a dark umbrella, or a thick dark cloth to cover your face and camera screen. 

Use the maximum zoom on the periphery of the Sun to focus. Swivel camera screens are a boon to focus comfortably.

A Tablet can be used to connect to the camera, get live view, and focus on the Sun. Focusing becomes easier using a tablet since it has a larger screen. Focusing is a crucial part of the process, and patience is the key to achieving a good focus.

The same focus is to be used in the entire solar eclipse photography, gently placing masking tape on the lens to lock the focus mechanism for the whole of the duration of the eclipse.

Photographing An Entire Composite Image Of A Solar Eclipse

Composite of a sequence of an entire eclipse, photographed during the Annular Solar Eclipse of 26 December 2019, from Ooty Radio Telescope, India

Setting Up Your Camera

This type of image can produce some fantastic results and help tell the story of the whole solar eclipse.

The idea is to shoot multiple exposures of the progress of the eclipse and blend them together in a single image to show the Sun’s motion across the sky as the eclipse progresses.

A wide-angle lens, such as a 24mm lens on a full-frame camera, would have enough field of view to encompass the entire eclipse. 

There is also a question of positioning the camera’s direction accurately. What I usually do is to rehearse one day earlier and compose my frame at the exact time of the middle of the eclipse. Then I tie down the camera rigidly until the eclipse day while making sure that I can still change the battery.

The camera and tripod must be fixed rigidly to a permanent installation or ground. The camera should not move at all during the entire duration of the eclipse.

You could shoot images at an interval of 30 seconds, although not all images would be used in making the sequence. You will need to select images that are more than 2 minutes apart to make the composite, making sure that the central part of the eclipse is incorporated.

Along with all the eclipse images, you need to shoot a background image either before sunrise or after the eclipse is over.

With And Without A Solar Filter

All the images making the composite would be shot using a solar filter, except for two. Just before the second contact, you need to remove the filter gently without disturbing the lens, focus, or the tripod. 

Shoot several widely bracketed exposures. You must remember to replace the filter just after the third contact so that the filtered shooting can continue till the fourth contact.

Another shot that you need to make without the filter is that of the landscape. Ideally, you should make the landscape image before sunrise in the twilight, to be blended later in the eclipse sequence. Make several different images at different times, before or after the eclipse.

Focal Length

The selected focal length should encompass the entire eclipse. The Sun moves about 15° in an hour, and since the eclipse typically lasts for about three hours, a field of view of 50° – 60° would suffice. Sometimes the eclipse is occurring at really high altitudes near the zenith. Then you may require a smaller focal length, sometimes even a fisheye lens, to incorporate the horizon in the composition.

ISO, Aperture & Shutter Speed 

During the partial phases of the eclipse, when you are shooting the eclipse with the filter on, a constant exposure would be needed. 

The constant exposure must be decided ahead of time, preferably the day before, while you set up your composition. 

There are many kinds of solar filters available, with different densities. Some filters allow more light, and others allow less light to pass through. You must test the exposure beforehand, preferably one day before at the time of the middle of the eclipse. 

To compensate for passing clouds, you could set up bracketed exposures, which means that 3, 5, or even 7 exposures would be shot at every 30-second interval. 

The unfiltered exposure during totality needs to be longer, to record the large extent of the corona. 

When making a composite image of an annular solar eclipse, you do not need to remove the filter during the pivotal phase between second and third contact.

Photographing The Different Events Of A Solar Eclipse

Below, I explain some of the various events that happen during a solar eclipse (especially just before, during, and just after totality) and how to prepare and capture those moments. 

Because if you are not ready, you’ll need to wait another 350 years to try again from the same spot. In the video above, you’ll see just how amazing of an experience it is.

Photographing: Diamond Ring

diamond ring solar eclipse
Be prepared to photograph the diamond ring during a total solar eclipse, it only lasts a few seconds on either side!

The most popular and familiar image of an eclipse is that of a Diamond Ring. A combination of several events forms the diamond ring. 

The bright spot of Sun shining from the last valley on the Moon, the bright pink chromosphere, the dark circle formed by the black Moon, and finally the appearance of corona around the black lunar disk.

Diamond Ring is visible at the time of second contact as well as third contact on either side of totality. The diamond ring phenomenon is a brief phenomenon lasting just a few seconds. You and your equipment need to be ready for capturing it right at the proper moment.


You should be well aware of the schedules of all the contact point events occurring in the solar eclipse from your location. 

Since timings and duration change from location to location, you need to be aware of the schedules of your exact location. Apart from the correct times, you should be mindful of the direction and altitude above the horizon at the time of each contact.

Solar Filter 

The solar filter needs to be removed for capturing the Diamond Ring effect since the corona would not be obtained with the dark solar filter still applied to the front of the camera lens. 

Be aware of the time to remove the filter at the time of the appearance of Baily’s Beads. The filter should be easily removable, not to shake the camera and, even more importantly, not to shift the focus at all. 

I always make my own filters for lenses and telescopes, using thick black card paper.

Focal length

A relatively long focal length lens is required to make a high-resolution image of the Diamond Ring. I prefer the size of the lunar disk to be larger than half the camera sensor. 

A focal length of more than 800mm in case of a crop sensor DSLR and more than 1200mm in case of a full-frame DSLR. 

The use of long focal lengths also requires a sturdy and stable tripod as well as ease of movement. Ideally, you should plan on using a telescope mounted on an equatorial mount, precisely tracking the eclipse on a solar tracking rate.

Smaller focal lengths such as 100mm would also show the Diamond Ring clearly. Composition of the landscape, horizon twilight hues and the diamond ring can be planned with smaller focal lengths, especially if the eclipse is happening near the horizon.

ISO, Aperture & Shutter Speed

Keep the ISO towards the middle of the range, such as 400 or 800. Lower ISOs are not advised, which will require slow shutter speeds, invite vibrations, and shaky images. The event lasts just a few seconds, and you should bracket quickly.

In the case of a telescope, you do not have the facility to change the aperture, but if you are using a camera lens, keep the aperture just 1 stop less than the maximum to avoid vignette and to keep faster exposures.

A typical setting that I would use to capture the Diamond Ring:

  • ISO – 400
  • Aperture – f/5
  • Shutter Speed – 1/4000

Photographing: Corona

Corona is visible to the naked eye during a total solar eclipse

The corona is the outermost part of the Sun’s atmosphere. The bright sunlight usually hides it, however, the corona can be seen during a total solar eclipse. 

The Moon blocks out the bright Sun, and the glowing white corona can then be seen surrounding the eclipsed Sun.

To the naked eye, many structures can be seen in the corona. If the Sun is at its minima, the corona would be highly extended towards the North Pole and the South Pole of the Sun. While when the Sun is at its maxima, the corona is spread out evenly all around the Sun. 

Magnetic lines can be seen in the coronal structures to several radii around the Sun.

Photography of the corona can be quite fascinating. It could be as simple as capturing the inner brighter parts with a handheld shot, or it could be complicated enough to build an elaborate processed ‘High Dynamic Range’ (HDR) image of the corona, showing intricate structures within.

Solar Filter

Remove solar filter

Focal length

A wide range of focal lengths is suitable for capturing the corona. The corona extends from the periphery of the Sun, to more than 10 solar radii, which means that the extent of corona is more than 5°.

Starting from a focal length of 500mm to capture the inner brighter corona, you could opt to capture the outer fainter corona using a 100 mm focal length.

ISO, Aperture & Shutter Speed

There is no wrong exposure for corona. Since the brightness of the corona varies dramatically, all exposures would capture some part of the corona correctly. To capture the innermost brightest part of the corona, you could shoot an exposure of:

  • ISO – 800
  • Aperture – f/5
  • Shutter Speed – 1/4000

To capture the outermost fainter part of the corona, you could increase your exposure to

  • ISO – 800
  • Aperture – f/5
  • Shutter Speed – 1 second

The human eye is fantastic. During totality, you would notice far more details in the corona than the camera can capture. The eye would be able to perceive and resolve from the brightest portions to the fainter outer portions reasonably well. 

On the other hand, a camera would require many different exposures to capture the large brightness range.

It is a worthwhile project to capture varying exposures rapidly during totality. All of the varying exposures would be correct and adequately capture some part of the corona. 

Later all these exposures can be merged to make a High Dynamic Range (HDR) image of the entire corona.

Photographing The surface of the Moon during totality?

How is that possible?

Have you ever gone trekking in darkness on a Full Moon night? The light from the full Moon is enough for you to see the path ahead. Similarly, the dark side of the Moon is receiving sunlight reflected from the Earth. 

The light is called ‘Earthshine.’ In any month, during crescent phases of the Moon at times just after sunset, you can see earthshine on the Moon. Similarly, during totality, you can capture the features on the Moon, using a slow shutter speed.

Solar Filter

Must be removed.

Focal length

A long focal length, such as 800mm / 1200mm for crop and full-frame sensors, respectively, would be ideal.

ISO, Aperture & Shutter Speed

While bracketing widely for the fainter outermost corona, the slowest shutter speed would also capture the lunar details. In some of the exposures, bright light from the corona would undoubtedly bleed into the lunar edges, and bracketing would undoubtedly help a lot. 

My typical exposure would be:

  • ISO – 800
  • Aperture – f/5
  • Shutter Speed – 1 second

Photographing: Chromosphere 

Chromosphere captured at Side

The “sphere of color” is one of the primary layers in the Sun’s atmosphere. The pink chromosphere is quite apparent during eclipses. The thin chromosphere sits just above the bright photosphere.

 The chromosphere is visible just as soon as the bright photosphere is hidden behind the Moon, and remains visible for a brief period. 

You will need to shoot rapid bracketed exposures to capture it. The chromosphere is also an important feature during the formation of a Diamond Ring.

Solar Filter

Must be removed.

Focal length

Same as the Diamond Ring, i.e., long focal length for high resolution.

ISO, Aperture & Shutter Speed

The typical exposure for capturing the chromosphere is short, the same as that of capturing innermost corona. 

If the exposure is increased, the chromosphere gets overwhelmed by the bright corona. As a starting point, a typical exposure to capture the chromosphere would be:

  • ISO – 800
  • Aperture – f/5
  • Shutter Speed – 1/4000

Photographing: Baily’s Beads

Baily’s Beads captured at Ooty, India on the third contact during the Annular Solar Eclipse of 26 December 2019

In 1836 Francis Baily noticed this simple occurring phenomenon in nature and documented it. Now people across the world refer to the breaking of the solar crescent as Baily’s Beads.

The appearance of Baily’s Beads just before the second contact is a transition in a Solar Eclipse. 

It is just about time for the totality to begin, a time for filters to be removed from the camera lenses. Till now, the partial phases of the eclipse were going on, which need to be captured using a solar filter. 

Some photographers remove their filters earlier, and some photographers like to remove their solar filters a little later. Depending upon the likes of different photographers, you will see different variations of photographs of Baily’s Beads. 

Some photos of beads are subdued because they were shot when the filter was still on, and some photos are bright and sparkling as they were shot with filters removed. Personally, I prefer to remove the filters earlier, and like to capture the bright portions, morphing into smaller and smaller beads till one bead is left as the Diamond Ring.

Baily’s Beads in an Annular are different from a Total Solar Eclipse

Baily’s Beads: Annular

In an Annular, the Moon is smaller than the Sun. So as the Moon is moving over the Sun, the Sun gets covered by the Moon’s shadow, but the rim remains visible.

As the Moon moves towards the center of the Sun, the ‘pointed horns’ you see of the solar rim combine and meet together. Baily’s Beads then form on the western edge of the Sun during the second contact in an Annular Eclipse.

Baily’s Beads: Total Solar Eclipse

In a Total Solar Eclipse, Baily’s Beads occur towards the eastern edge of the Sun on the second contact. A reverse phenomenon occurs on the third contact, Baily’s Beads form on the east side of the Sun in an Annular Eclipse, quite unlike what happens in a Total Solar Eclipse.

The beads are bright and intense in the images because, by the time the beads appear in a Total Solar Eclipse, astrophotographers have removed their solar filters.

While in an annular eclipse, astrophotographers usually don’t remove the filter, so beads are a little more subdued and moderate in the pictures.

Other Interesting Events During A Solar Eclipse

Several different phenomena occur during the eclipse, not particularly in the sky towards the Sun, but around you on the Earth. 

a solar eclipse causes some eerie looking shadows as you can see in this video

You could use any camera and exposure to capture Interesting compositions that would fetch you some interesting images of the eclipse.

360° Twilight 

At the time of the middle of the eclipse, try to notice the horizon around you, it seems like it is twilight time all around. You may like to capture this in a 360° panoramic image.

Scattered Eclipses on the ground

Notice that many eclipses that are scattered on the ground below trees and shrubs. These images are opposite in direction and will change shape post totality. 

You can even make an image of the eclipse on a wall, using your hand and fingers. Capture these in your own unique ways.

Pinhole crescents and doughnuts

Carry a kitchen colander, or a plywood with pinholes to make your own shapes and project eclipse behind. During an Annular Eclipse, you can capture doughnut shapes using these pinholes.

Shoot the approaching shadow

If you are located on a high vantage point and can see far in the horizon, you will undoubtedly see the shadow approaching towards you just before totality, and also receding away after the totality is over. 

You may see a wedge of darkness in the western sky and clouds on the western horizon going dark before totality begins at your position. As totality arrives, a wide-angle shot may show the Moon’s cone-shaped shadow extending down toward the Earth.

Practice with your equipment on location

A dress rehearsal one or two days before the eclipse is a must if you want to photograph the eclipse without any issues successfully. 

A full dress rehearsal would make you aware of the problems that may come up such as a shaky tripod, or that the tripod will not let you point the camera towards the eclipse if it occurs high up in the sky. 

Since you have to work with your cameras in full daylight, the camera screen would not be readily visible, and you would need to carry an umbrella or a large thick dark cloth.

If you are working on a computer, you could place it in a cardboard carton so that the screen is visible. Also, Don’t wear a bright shirt; it will reflect off the laptop screen.

The dress rehearsal should be on the exact location where you intend to be on the eclipse day. You will become aware of any obstructions beforehand, that may restrict the eclipse view on the day. 

Print out the local circumstances about your location and keep it handy, especially for knowing how much time is left for the contact times.

While you are trying to shoot extensively, do not forget to take a break for a few precious moments, and look at the eclipse. Soak in the ambiance around, observe the corona, the chromosphere, but be careful of the diamond ring appearance, which means that you need to put back on your eclipse glasses.

Post Processing your Eclipse Images

pos processing needed to create a solar eclipse composition

I do most of my processing in Adobe Camera Raw in Photoshop, which helps me process in quick batches.

To make a composite image of the entire eclipse, I sometimes use a non-conventional software called ‘Startrails,’ which is used for astrophotographers to blend star trails.

But it works equally nicely for blending a composite eclipse image. Startrails is a free software which can be downloaded from here.

Building an HDR image of the corona takes the longest time. One option is to use the well known HDR software Photomatix. 

There is, however, a particular specialized software for that does the same job. It is called Fitswork and can be downloaded free from here. Documentation for the Fitswork software isn’t the greatest as most of it is in german. Luckily you can find a 4 part video tutorial (in English) on how to use it here.


I do hope you find the article useful, especially knowing the various adjustments and settings needed during the different phases of a solar eclipse.

If you’ve never experienced a solar eclipse, let alone the surreal experience of “totality,” then I highly recommend adding it to your bucket list.

About Ajay Talwar