What’s all the fuss?
There’s a total solar eclipse happening over the United States on August 21, 2017. But why is everyone EXTRA freaking out about this particular one? Let’s look at why.
What exactly is a solar eclipse? ? ??
A solar eclipse is when the moon passes between the earth and the sun. There are a few variations of the eclipse that you may see depending on where you’re observing from. A total solar eclipse is when the sun is blocked by the moon, creating a fiery ring shape in the sky. This is the hardest stage of the eclipse to see. Even though this will be a total solar eclipse, you may only see a partial solar eclipse due to your location. This is the first eclipse the U.S. has seen in 38 years. The last one was February 26, 1979. Again, this eclipse will happen on August 21, 2017 and the next eclipse after this one will be April 8, 2024. You can view the path of the 2017 eclipse below.
Where can you see totality?
This website has a lot of helpful info. Once you enter your location on the website it will tell you:
- if you’re on the path for a partial or total solar eclipse.
- what percentage of the sun will be blocked by the moon and when the eclipse will start and end.
Remember: If you’re not on the path for a total solar eclipse you will still be able to see a high percentage of the sun being blocked by the moon. You’ll have about two minutes to view the eclipse if you’re along the totality path and less time the farther from the path you are. There will be several solar festivals happening along the path of the total solar eclipse which passes through 12 states. Fortunately everyone in the US will be able to see at least a partial solar eclipse, weather dependent of course.
Location, location, location.
Before August 21st, I would recommend scouting a location or finding a festival to attend. Many hotels along the path of the eclipse have already began to fill up. Several of the festivals are selling tickets online. It would be wise to buy tickets and book a room sooner rather than later to guarantee a spot. Several of the festivals are located in remote areas and provide campsites. This is August, so you’d better be okay sleeping without air conditioning.
Get the right gear.
You don’t need fancy professional photography gear to shoot the eclipse. You will need a tripod so your shots are stable, a camera (DSLR, point and shoot, or even a cellphone), and a solar eclipse filter. Just three pieces are needed. If you’re shooting on a DSLR, ideally, you need at least a 300mm lens, but you can still get a great shot with a smaller lens. You can also rent a larger telephoto lens for a fraction of the retail price. If you’re shooting on a cellphone, you can buy a clip-on lens with 12x magnification for under $20 from Amazon.
Stay seeing safely.
- First, you should never look right at the sun with the naked eye or even sunglasses.
- Second, you should never look at a partial solar eclipse with the naked eye or even sunglasses. The best way to view the sun is by purchasing a pair of solar eclipse glasses or going to a hardware store and buying a piece of welding glass.
- Third, you should never look through your optical viewfinder at the sun unless it’s an electronic viewfinder or an LCD screen.
- Fourth, you’ll need to buy a solar filter for your camera to protect your eye and your camera’s sensor.
Shoot for the moon.
If you’re using a DSLR, manually set your focus to infinity. Do not use autofocus. I like to set my focus by finding a cellphone tower and focusing on the blinking beacon on top of the tower. A good way to prepare is by safely shooting the sun or the moon. This will allow you to figure out framing and how to get the correct settings. Since you’ll most likely be shooting on a tripod, keep your ISO low and your shutter open longer to avoid grainy images.
If you’re using a cellphone, look into downloading a photography app that will give your phone DSLR-like settings. You’ll be able to adjust settings manually, even the focus on your phone can be adjusted. This will allow for a crisper image with less noise when compared to shooting with the stock camera app on your phone.
Have the timelapse of your life.
If you have a GoPro or an iPhone it might be fun to set-up a timelapse of the eclipse. You can learn more about setting up the perfect timelapse in this blog post. The great thing about the GoPro is that you can create a video or grab a still shot with GoPro’s Capture app. Plus you won’t miss a shot if you have the GoPro recording the whole duration of the eclipse.
Before you head out on August 21st, make a list of all the gear you’ll be taking. Don’t forget to include things like your tripod, DSLR, extra batteries, lens cleaning kit, solar eclipse filters and glasses, and a clip-on lens for your iPhone. Also remember to charge all of your batteries ahead of time, clear your SD cards, and clean your lenses. You should double check your location and practice shooting the moon before the solar eclipse. And don’t forget to look up from your camera and enjoy the solar eclipse.
At Fracture, we are passionate about inspiring people to capture the most important moments in their lives. For those of us in the southeast, another moment like this won’t happen again for over 50 years. So we feel it’s a moment worth capturing and celebrating. We have a small crew heading to South Carolina to film and photograph the event. We look forward to sharing the images we capture of this awesome alignment of stars. If you’ll be in Charleston to view the eclipse, comment below and we’ll bring some Fracture swag to give you if we get a chance to meet!