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Eclipes help PLEASE. I'm NEW


Hey, everyone, I am very new with my camera I have only had it about 3 months (my birthday) and I really want to photograph the solar eclipse on Aug 21st. I will be in the direct path of totally and I have been reading all kinds of articles about how to photograph it but I have no idea what any of the settings mean. I know I don't have the best lens for pictures with it being only a 75-300mm lens but that is all I have and bigger lens are more expensive and I can't afford it. The camera I have is a Canon EOS Rebel T6 and I have no idea how to set the settings. I've been told I will want two different settings one for passing phases and one for totally that I can switch back and forth too but I have no idea what kind of settings I need or how to set it in my camera. I do have a solar filter and I know to only look through the LCD screen, not the viewfinder. Is there anyone that can help with setting my camera??



Are you saying you don't know how to work your camera at all?  That will make it pretty hard for any of us to show you how.

You need to read the manual to practice setting things and practice well ahead of time before the day comes.  there are only 3 things to need to set: Av, Tv, and ISO.  You need to work this one out yourself.


I usually don't advice this for beginners but for the purpose of photographing the solar eclipse you should be using M mode.


1. Mount camera on a tripod, zoom to 300mm, install solar filter - point towards the sun and put the sun in the middle

2. Set round dial to M mode

3. Set ISO to 100

4. Set Av to f/11

5. Turn on Live View - there is a good chance it's completely dark  on the LCD screen

6. Turn the dial to set the shutter speed (Tv) until you see an image...most likely dark background and a white circle where the sun is.  You can adjust Tv until the dark background is dark but not completely black because you want the black moon to show also.  Don't forget to focus on the sun.


That's about it.  


7. As the black moon starts to overtake the sun, the scene will get increasingly darker.  You need to turn the Tv dial until it looks right on the LCD screen.  You don't really care what the values are.   Take a series of shots, each time adjust the Tv dial so it looks OK on the LCD.


8.  When the moon almost completely covers the sun, you may need to remove the solar filter in order to get the white aura around the black moon...Once you remove the filter, you have to significantly change the Tv value to get the right picture on the LCD.  Two cameras set up is better because removing the filter is not that simple when you're very excited and it's almost completely dark out there.


9.  Reinstall the filter then continue to photograph the moon exiting.  Again dial that Tv to get the right exposure (looks right on the LCD)


You can practice this on the regular sun until you get a perfect white circle with a darkened background.  You can also try to block the sun with something to get used to adjusting the Tv dial to get the right exposure.  I think at your beginner level, 300mm is better because the moon moves in pretty quickly,,,a higher zoom level will require you to move the camera to track it which might not be a good thing.


I witnessed the total eclipse in February 1979 but I didn't photograph it.  Actually I have never photographed the total eclipse myself.  All of this would be what I'd have done.  Practice it now until you get the procedure down pat. Don't wait until that day.


P.S. You should invest in a wired remote control for your camera.  It's a lot more convenient to set off the shutter without touching the camera to avoid shaking the camera unnecessarily thus blurring the shots.

Diverhank's photos on Flickr

Thank you. I know a little about the camera but I haven't played around with it a lot and a lot of the articles I have read has said different things some saying I needed the iso to 800 or more and the av to f5.6 - f8  and they didn't explain a lot about the different exposures. I understanding helping beginners can be a huge pain and I appreciate your help. What you said has made it more clear on how to do the settings. Again thank you

@Catherine1990 wrote:

Thank you. I know a little about the camera but I haven't played around with it a lot and a lot of the articles I have read has said different things some saying I needed the iso to 800 or more and the av to f5.6 - f8  and they didn't explain a lot about the different exposures. I understanding helping beginners can be a huge pain and I appreciate your help. What you said has made it more clear on how to do the settings. Again thank you

You know...for the totality settings may cause the shutter speed to be too long.  The camera can only handle 30 seconds and you don't really want to open it up too long so I think I need to rethink this a bit.


So when the moon starts to touch the sun, you might want to change the Av to f/5.6 and ISO to 800 so that the shutter speed does not take overly long.  This is a good point.  Remember, in my scheme, after you set Av and ISO, all you have to do is to change the Tv dial until things look right on the LCD.  No other thinking is involved and it's very doable.  To practice for the totality phase, you might want to wait until the sun is setting, the lighting condition will be similar to that.

Diverhank's photos on Flickr

Ok. Thank you, I will defiantly do that

You need to download the full user manual and spend some time getting comfortable with the controls and settings of your camera. If you don't learn about these things, you will either be totally lost or forever in A mode. And that is really not what you want.

@Catherine1990 wrote:

a lot of the articles I have read has said different things some saying I needed the iso to 800 or more and the av to f5.6 - f8  and they didn't explain a lot about the different exposures.

Get yourself a copy of Bryan Peterson's "Understanding Exposure." It helped me immensely in not only understanding the exposure triangle, but also in venturing into Manual mode. In fact, he insists on it. It's not difficult once you learn how. 


Hi Catherine,


I'm going to give you a completely different perspective.  I'm going to try to talk you out of the idea of photographing this.  At the end I'll offer you some exposure info if you really want to do this... but I think you just just enjoy the event and not include the camera.


The most experienced eclipse experts I know all give the same advice... if this is your FIRST "total" solar eclipse, don't photograph it.  Just enjoy the experience.  


There are so many cool things that are going to happen... shadow bands, the diamond ring, baily's beads, the solor corona, the 360º sunset, and if you're on high ground... being able to see the moons shadow racing toward you ... and then a few minutes later to see it racing away.  There are phenomena with the sounds, the wind, the temperature, the behavior of animals.  It's all quite a bit to take in. 


What you DO NOT want to do... is have your head stuck looking at the back of your camera while you frantically try to work out all the expousures settings you need and keep moving the tripod to keep the sun framed in the middle -- and miss witnessing all these amazing phenomena.   BTW, the timing of some of these shots is critical  (Baily's Beads is a fleeting effect and the camera literally has to grab that shot in in the right fraction of a second or it'll be missed.)


The idea that you'll nail all this the first time through is ... wishfull thinking.  You probably will not get the shots you want AND you will have missed the most exciting part of experiencing the eclipse.  This is the sort of problem best left to a computer.


Like you, this will be my first "total" solar eclipse.  I have had a few 'partial' solar eclipses and even photographed them.  But the difference between a "total" solar eclipse vs. a "partial" solar eclipse is compared to the difference between getting to go watch your favorite concert... with front row tickets... and they're playing JUST for you.... vs. .... getting to hear them from three blocks away from the stadium.  There's just no comparing totality to anything less than 100% totality (even 99% is disappointing to compared to totality).


In other words... do not miss enjoying this.


I will be photographing this, but there are several key differences.


I've been doing astronomy and astrophotography for years.  I have telescope mounts and tracking mounts so that when I set up my gear, it will follow the sun as the Earth spins so I wont ever touch or adjust the camera framing after my initial setup.


I'm not actually going to take the pictures... my computer is.   I'm using special softare specifically designed for camera control during a total solar eclipse (special software actually exists just for this one thing) and it uses the eclipse prediction data combined with very price date & time (via GPS) combined with very price location which not only includes latitude & longitude... but also altitude... to determine when to take some of these key shots down to the 1/10th of a second moments.


The computer will also rapidly start changing the exposures to expose for the 10-12 stops worth of exposure bracketing which are needed to capture the entire solar corona, plus the shots needed to capture the chromosphere and prominences, plus the exposure needed to capture Earth-shine on the moon ... and of course all the partial phases (and it'll grab a shot for me at every 2% of partial coverage).


What will I be doing?   I will listen for the computer alarm say "Filters off!  Filters off!  Filters off!" at 20 seconds prior to totality... and I'll remove the solar filter.  When totality ends I will listen for the "Filters on!" alerts and I'll put the filters back on.


But DURING the best part of the eclipse, I'll literally be ignoring my gear and let the computer do all the work.  If for some reason the computer should mess up... I do not plan to fix it.  I plan to enjoy the experience of the eclipse.




If you REALLY want to photograph this, then I suggest you read this page in detail:


Mr. Eclipse is Fred Espenak.  He's a retired NASA physicist who still continues to do their eclipse predictions even to this day.  The prediction data for this particualr eclipse is called "2017 Aug 21 Total (Espenak DE405)" -- this is the data that generates all those maps of the path of totality you've likely seen.  You see his name and "DE405" (DE405 refers to the JPL DE405 which is the latest & greatest solar system ephemeris model (the model that accurately figures out where everything will be... and when.)  Basically this guy as very strong credentials.  If anyone KNOWS what they're doing... this is the guy to listen to.  (to be fair there are many respected eclipse photographers but he's among the best.)


The point is... if Fred Espenak (aka "Mr. Eclipse") tells me what to do, and someone else gives me conflicting advice, I go with what Fred says.




What scares me about your plea for help are phrases such as "I have no idea how to set the settings".  This is not good when the eclipse is only 12 days away.


You really need to understand how exposure works. You'll need to use completely manual exposure and manual focus (no auto-anything ... if you set full auto-exposure mode or program mode or even Av or Tv mode... the camera is going to botch the capture because the sun presents a rather unique metering challenge that cameras are not designed to handle.





Basically you have about 1.5 weeks to cram ... like you're cramming for college finals and you never did any of the classwork or attended the lectures.  This is panic time.  And if you don't nail it there is no do-over because the next total solar eclipse in the US isn't until 2024 and that eclipse happens in April when traditionally the states along the path of totality have a far greater probablity of cloudy weather than clear weather.  So unless you can travel to obscure parts of the world to see other total solar eclipses... this could be the only one you see in your lifetime.  (not to put too fine of a point on it.)


This is why... in your case and with your experience level, I think it would best to talk you out of the idea of photographing this eclipse.




I'm using a program designed for mac called "Solar Eclipse Maestro" (SEM).  SEM uses the and most accuaret data available, combined with GPS to work out precise timing of each phenomena to determine precisely when each of the four "contacts" will occur based on your location.  The "contacts" refer to the times when (C1) the moon first touches the sun and begins to paritally block the Sun's disk, then (C2) the moon fully covers the Sun and totality begins, then (C3) totality ends, then (C4) the moon finishes moving off the Sun's disk and the eclipse is completely over.  The timing of each shot is based on relatively offsets from those four events.


On Windows there are two different programs for eclipse capture.  One is named "Eclipse Orchestrator".  The other is named "SETnC".  You can use either of these.


The programs need to know the precise date/time and your precise location otherwise they'll miss the shots.  They recommend you attach a GPS to the computer and that the GPS should be left running for the 12 mintues and 30 seconds necessary to let them update the GPS almanac (the satellites drift in orbit but they also transmit their new orbits continuously... it just takes a while to download a fully set of data because it's a very low speed transmission.)


You could also just manually enter your GPS location into the software (e.g. read it off your phone... but again, leave your GPS running for a while so the location is bang-on accurate) but really you need to have precise date/time on your computer clock (to within 1/10th of a second accuracy.  If your computer can automatically fetch and update it's time from the Internet then that would be preferred.)




As for specific settings... I'd need to know precisely which solar filter you have.  


For totality, you can capture the basic corona to a distance of approximately 1/2 the Sun's solar radius... then an exposure of ISO 200, f/8 and 1/30th sec would be pretty good.  You could also try 1/15th sec to get a bit more.


For the partial phases you can use ISO 200, f/8, and 1/1000th sec.  WITH an "ND 5.0" density solar filter (tell me exactly which solar filter you have and I can probably tell you if it is an ND 5.0 filter (some filters are ND 4.0 and some are higher than ND 5.0).  ND 5.0 is the most common ... so if I had to guess, then that's probably what you have.


Keep in mind that the Earth is spinning... faster than you may think.  This means that if you do not have a tracking mount (and it sounds like you do not) and are relying on a photo tripod (do not try to do this by hand-holding the camera) you will need to nudge the tripod along from time to time.  About 1 minute prior to totality, and WITH the filter still on the lens, I suggest doing a final framing by placing the sun just barely left of the center of the frame.  The Sun will appear to drift to the right side of the frame during totality and will move about 1.25 x it's own width in that time.  So by placing it just barely left of center, it will drift into the center of your frame by mid-totality and you wont have to adjust the tripod.



If you really want to try to photograph this eclipse... you need to be practicing.  Put you camera & lens on a tripod, attach the filter, and make sure you understand how to put the camera in manual expousre mode, manually dial in the ISO, aperture (f-stop) and shutter speed, and also put the lens in manual focus mode, point it at the sun and practice refining focus (I do this in live-view mode and I zoom in to the 10x level so I can carefully adjust focus until I'm happy that it's as sharp as possible.)  Do this many times between now and the 21st.  


I also recommend practicing on the moon.  But the Moon is just past a full moon.  Tonight (only) the Moon rises about 40 minutes after sunset.  Each night it'll be nearly an hour later than the previous night.  So if you want to practice using the moon... do it tonight... or tomorrow.  Otherwise you end up having to get up in the middle of the night (as we approach 3rd quarter moon the moon wont rise until the middle of the night).  This is the final chance at the moon because the next "new moon" IS the eclipse.  For a moon exposure, practice using manual exposure, dial in ISO 200, f/11, and 1/200th sec.  (you can also use ISO 100, f/11, and 1/100th sec.)


On the 21st... have your camera & tripod ready long before the eclipse begins with a freshly charged battery and empty memory card.


Also... please watch this video to help quickly get you up to speed on how manual exposure works:


(watch this more than once if needed... you NEED to understand how manual exposure works... and quickly -- if you expect to have any reasonable chance of pulling this off.)



Good luck and clear skies for the eclipse!



Tim Campbell
5D III, 5D IV, 60Da

Thank you TCampbell for that.


While first reading through I was wondering about using Manual EV over Tv, but as I read further it became very clear. 


I'm not sure if I'll be out there on the 21st, but if I am, I'll have a much better idea of what I'm doing.