EvergreenTips & Tricks

How to capture stunning photos of the eclipse with your smartphone

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Did you know that on the 8th of April, a total solar eclipse will take place? If you’re thinking about maybe documenting the event for your own posterity, or maybe just to share on social media, then obviously taking photos of the eclipse would be a great idea. If you don’t own any fancy camera equipment, don’t worry as we’ll share some tips on how to take photos of the eclipse using just your smartphone.

Safety first!

Before we start pointing our phones at the eclipse, you will have to take some safety precautions! Just because it looks dark does not mean that it is safe for you to look directly at the eclipse without protection. This can lead to injury to your eyes and in some extreme cases, cause blindness.

Regular sunglasses won’t cut it either as you will need to use specially made solar eclipse glasses. They are relatively inexpensive for the disposable models and will help protect your eyes. You can also opt to view the eclipse using indirect methods like with a pinhole projector.

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Another thing you’ll want to take note of is that you also shouldn’t point your camera directly at the eclipse. This is because your camera lens can magnify the intensity of the sun and cause damage to your phone’s components. Photographer Sean MacDonald proved this back in 2017 by sacrificing his camera by pointing a 400mm lens directly at the sun without protection.

If you are using your smartphone, NASA Heliophysicist Dr. Ashley Greeley says that placing your eclipse glasses over the camera lens will be good enough. If you are using a bigger camera and lens, then you will need to invest in specially made solar filters. Last but not least, since the eclipse will take place during the day and if you plan to stand around in the sun waiting for it to happen, remember to put on some sunscreen!

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Now that we’ve gotten the safety precautions out of the way, let’s look at some tips to help you capture the best possible photo of the eclipse with your smartphone.

Getting a solar filter

We know that we said if you are only using a smartphone to capture the eclipse, you can get away with just covering the lens with your eclipse glasses to protect it. But if you’re serious about your photography and want to squeeze out the best possible photo, then maybe you can buy some solar filters designed for smartphones.

These are simple filters that you can just place over your smartphone’s camera and can enhance the overall images you capture. They also have the added benefit of protecting your phone’s cameras from potential damage. The end result will also give better quality images as eclipse glasses weren’t really designed to be used for photography and can create a hazy-like effect.

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A tripod is a must

The next piece of equipment you might want to consider investing in is a smartphone tripod. These are inexpensive pieces of gear that you can use for this particular occasion or other photography purposes in the future, so it’s not a bad idea to own one just in case. A tripod is immensely useful because it helps keep your smartphone steady while taking photos of the eclipse.

Since the eclipse essentially blocks out the sun, lighting won’t be as readily available. This means that your smartphone’s camera software will try to compensate for the lack of light by leaving the lens open for a longer period of time. This means that any potential movement of your smartphone could result in photos of the eclipse that’s blurry and shaky.

A smartphone tripod will help to steady your camera which will result in nice and sharp images. A lot of smartphone cameras do come with OIS/EIS to balance out camera shake, but for longer exposures it won’t be as useful as a tripod.

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Zooming into the action

A third piece of camera equipment we would recommend is a zoom lens. While smartphone makers have improved the lenses on our phones, sometimes using external third-party lenses can further enhance our photography or videography. Maybe your phone’s macro capabilities aren’t as good, or maybe you want to create an anamorphic effect.

For taking photos of the eclipse, a zoom lens might be preferable. A zoom lens lets you zoom into the eclipse, giving you a much nicer and detailed photo. It also beats using your phone’s digital zoom, which for the most part is just a crop. Combine that with the solar filter we mentioned earlier and you should be able to get some stunning photos.

Plus, a zoom lens can also be useful outside of the eclipse. It is quite handy for taking photos of portraits as it can create a tighter shot. It can be used for architecture or even landscape as telephoto lenses can compress the foreground and background, creating an interesting effect.

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Switch your software

The camera software that comes bundled with our smartphones is generally pretty decent. This will vary from OEM to OEM. Some OEMs will offer users more advanced controls, while some try to keep their software as simple as possible. But if you’re looking for more advanced controls over your phone’s camera, then it might be time to check out third-party apps.

We should point out that these camera apps won’t automatically give you better photos. Instead, the majority of these apps simply give users more modular control over their camera’s controls. This might appeal to more advanced photographers who prefer using their own settings rather than rely on the native camera software.

That being said, here are some potential third-party camera apps you can check out.

Practice, practice, practice!

Last but not least, practice! You still have a few more days before the solar eclipse takes place. This means that you have a bit of time to practice taking photos and exploring the more advanced camera settings on your phone. Experiment with different apertures, shutter speeds, and ISO levels if your camera software allows it. This will help you get prepared so that when the eclipse happens, you can just spend your time taking photos instead of fumbling with your smartphone settings.

Note: this article may contain affiliate links that help support our authors and keep the Phandroid servers running.

Tyler Lee
A graphic novelist wannabe. Amateur chef. Mechanical keyboard enthusiast. Writer of tech with over a decade of experience. Juggles between using a Mac and Windows PC, switches between iOS and Android, believes in the best of both worlds.

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