How to shoot the Aug. 21 solar eclipse on an iPhone

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in iPhone
On August 21, for the first time since 1918, a total solar eclipse will trace a coast-to-coast path across the U.S. Here's some tips on how to capture it with your iPhone.




First, some absolute basics. Though lot of states will see a partial eclipse, only parts of 14 will see it in totality -- Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina. NASA's 2017 eclipse website is one good way of figuring out where you need to be and when, weather and budget permitting.




Regardless of where you are, be sure to wear ISO-certified eclipse glasses at all times during the event, except perhaps for the 2 minutes or so the sun is completely covered and only its corona is visible -- even then, glasses must go back on before the sun re-emerges. Staring at the uncovered sun, even in a partial eclipse, can result in permanent eye damage.

Note that it's also unsafe to look through any optics pointed at the sun unless they have their own solar filters. It's alright to look at an iPhone screen, of course, so long as the sun isn't directly behind it.

General rules

Whether you use iOS 10's built-in camera app or a third-party one, be sure to disable flash and use automatic exposure settings whenever possible, unless you're a veteran photographer or videographer. Eclipses create dramatic shifts in lighting that can be hard to compensate for. If you do need to change exposure, try tapping on different areas around the moon to select a focus/metering point, and perform any manual adjustments from there.

image


Whenever the sun is partially eclipsed -- and perhaps totally as well -- cover the iPhone lens with a solar filter, such as a second pair of eclipse glasses. This should prevent the sun's light from completely overwhelming an image, as well as eliminate any risk of electronics damage.

In composing shots, be mindful that it's not always necessary to put the sun and moon in the center of the frame. Some of the most interesting shots can involve the effect on the sky, scenery, and audience, and even with accessories, most smartphones don't have the telephoto range to make an eclipse fill the frame. That includes the 2x optical zoom on the iPhone 7 Plus.

Avoid the temptation to use digital zoom -- anything beyond 1x on most iPhones, or 2x on the 7 Plus. This simply blows up part of an image after optical zoom runs out, which can make noise and compression artifacts more visible without actually improving detail. It's better to shoot a regular-sized image, since you can always crop later.

Apps & accessories

If possible, try mounting your iPhone on a tripod such as a GorillaPod, then set a short timer if you're doing still photos. That should reduce any blur that might come from shaking hands or low light.

It may be difficult to fill the frame, but it's still worth buying a clip-on telephoto lens to get the best possible image. Many of these are surprisingly cheap, though of course you get what you pay for, and the lens has to match your iPhone model. It's best to stick to reputable brands like Moment or Olloclip if you intend to use a lens after the eclipse or simply care about build quality.

Olloclip's Vista set, which includes 2x telephoto and 120-degree super-wide lenses.
Olloclip's Vista set, which includes 2x telephoto and 120-degree super-wide lenses.


One useful app for the event is the Exploratorium's Total Solar Eclipse. It's a free download, and not only includes a wealth of information but the ability to watch one of five planned livestreams, such as one narrated by the Exploratorium and NASA scientists, and even one with live music by the Kronos Quartet. A built-in Twitter view tracks several common hashtags.

Since an eclipse is less dramatic if clouds are blocking it, you might consider an advanced weather app like Dark Sky. It does cost $3.99, but it works on iPhones, iPads, and Apple Watches, and delivers minute-by-minute forecasts for the current hour, plus hour-by-hour forecasts for the week. These predictions are also based on your exact location, which may be handy if you're watching outside a town or city.

If you want to spend money on a camera app, we recommend ProCam 4 for the ultimate in manual control. For eclipse shots, the main adjustments to be made are ISO and exposure settings, which are easily accessed using ProCam's built-in sliders.

Final thoughts

All else being said, spend as little time shooting photos and video as possible. The full impact of an eclipse comes from seeing it with your own eyes, and it'll be over far too soon.
Soliboltsfan17watto_cobra
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 28
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,862member
    Thank you for this.
    mike1watto_cobrarepressthispbrutto
  • Reply 2 of 28
    boltsfan17boltsfan17 Posts: 2,161member
    Great tips! It's unfortunate some prime viewing areas in Oregon are closed due to the forest fires burning in the state. A good free app to use with manual camera controls is the Adobe Lightroom mobile app. 
    edited August 2017 Soliwatto_cobrarepressthis
  • Reply 3 of 28
    What happened to using two sheets of (preferably white) cardboard, one of which has a pinhole in the center... which serves as a 'lens' to project the sun's image onto the second sheet... which itself is safe to look at directly (no other optics neeed).

    This was part of science curriculum back in the day.
    mwhite
  • Reply 4 of 28
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,862member
    What happened to using two sheets of (preferably white) cardboard, one of which has a pinhole in the center... which serves as a 'lens' to project the sun's image onto the second sheet... which itself is safe to look at directly (no other optics neeed).

    This was part of science curriculum back in the day.
    1) You can still create a pinhole projector, but we now have affordable technology that allows us to look at the eclipse without damage to the eyes.

    2) The glasses aren't optics in the sense of reading glasses. They are just ISO certified filters.
    edited August 2017
  • Reply 5 of 28
    Soli said:
    What happened to using two sheets of (preferably white) cardboard, one of which has a pinhole in the center... which serves as a 'lens' to project the sun's image onto the second sheet... which itself is safe to look at directly (no other optics neeed).

    This was part of science curriculum back in the day.
    1) You can still create a pinhole projector, but we now have affordable technology that allows us to look at the eclipse without damage to the eyes.

    2) The glasses aren't optics in the sense of reading glasses. They are just ISO certified filters.
    And all of them will be 100% free of manufacturing defects, I'm sure.  /s
  • Reply 6 of 28
    macguimacgui Posts: 1,262member
    What happened to using two sheets of (preferably white) cardboard, one of which has a pinhole in the center... which serves as a 'lens' to project the sun's image onto the second sheet... which itself is safe to look at directly (no other optics neeed).

    This was part of science curriculum back in the day.
    Nothing happened. Except for moving into the 21st century. Consider viewing the image via pinhole camera as compared to the pic at the top of the page, not that everyone will get that nice of a picture. While a pinhole camera is great, from kiddies, it's extremely boring for savvy adults with options.


    pscooter63 said:
    And all of them will be 100% free of manufacturing defects, I'm sure.  /s
    High dumbassery.
    peterhartnetmage
  • Reply 7 of 28
    jd_in_sbjd_in_sb Posts: 1,484member
    I flew to Mexico to be in the path of the total eclipse of July 11, 1991. I learned a painful lesson: the most important aspect of taking a good photo of a solar eclipse is to choose a location that historically has clear weather on that date. 30 min before the eclipse (in Mazatlan) clouds came over and we missed it. Sure, it got dark as night for 7 minutes but we didn't see the ring of fire or stars. A hundred photographers with fancy equipment near us stared in disappointmfng at gray skies, wishing they were in Cabo. For this eclipse we chose Madras Oregon which has some of the best weather in the entire path, on August 21 each year. Good weather is no guarantee, though. A smokey wildfire can still deny you your prize photo. 
  • Reply 8 of 28
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 7,096member
    macgui said:
    What happened to using two sheets of (preferably white) cardboard, one of which has a pinhole in the center... which serves as a 'lens' to project the sun's image onto the second sheet... which itself is safe to look at directly (no other optics neeed).

    This was part of science curriculum back in the day.
    Nothing happened. Except for moving into the 21st century. Consider viewing the image via pinhole camera as compared to the pic at the top of the page, not that everyone will get that nice of a picture. While a pinhole camera is great, from kiddies, it's extremely boring for savvy adults with options.


    pscooter63 said:
    And all of them will be 100% free of manufacturing defects, I'm sure.  /s
    High dumbassery.
    Not dumbassery at all. In my neck of the woods news media is warning about non-ISO certified glasses being sold. A local library is recalling all the glasses it handed out free because it found out they were counterfeit. As with any major event or catastrophe the charlatans are out in force trying to make a fast buck. And the price is skyrocketing too. Those simple, paper solar glasses you see are going for $10 apiece now. Unfortunately there will be people who will wind up with damaged eyesight because of this.
    cornchippscooter63VirgilBoy99
  • Reply 9 of 28
    MacProMacPro Posts: 18,254member
    lkrupp said:
    macgui said:
    What happened to using two sheets of (preferably white) cardboard, one of which has a pinhole in the center... which serves as a 'lens' to project the sun's image onto the second sheet... which itself is safe to look at directly (no other optics neeed).

    This was part of science curriculum back in the day.
    Nothing happened. Except for moving into the 21st century. Consider viewing the image via pinhole camera as compared to the pic at the top of the page, not that everyone will get that nice of a picture. While a pinhole camera is great, from kiddies, it's extremely boring for savvy adults with options.


    pscooter63 said:
    And all of them will be 100% free of manufacturing defects, I'm sure.  /s
    High dumbassery.
    Not dumbassery at all. In my neck of the woods news media is warning about non-ISO certified glasses being sold. A local library is recalling all the glasses it handed out free because it found out they were counterfeit. As with any major event or catastrophe the charlatans are out in force trying to make a fast buck. And the price is skyrocketing too. Those simple, paper solar glasses you see are going for $10 apiece now. Unfortunately there will be people who will wind up with damaged eyesight because of this.
    OMG I hadn't read that before.  I wonder how many other Library handouts were counterfeit   If this is wide scale the ERs of America will be overflowing with innocent victims of this who stared at the sun believing they were safe to do so as they are told by doctors they have irreparable damage or blindness for life.  This should be a life sentence for those involved in the fraud even if one person suffers.  
    edited August 2017
  • Reply 10 of 28
    cornchipcornchip Posts: 1,314member
    MacPro said:
    lkrupp said:
    macgui said:
    What happened to using two sheets of (preferably white) cardboard, one of which has a pinhole in the center... which serves as a 'lens' to project the sun's image onto the second sheet... which itself is safe to look at directly (no other optics neeed).

    This was part of science curriculum back in the day.
    Nothing happened. Except for moving into the 21st century. Consider viewing the image via pinhole camera as compared to the pic at the top of the page, not that everyone will get that nice of a picture. While a pinhole camera is great, from kiddies, it's extremely boring for savvy adults with options.


    pscooter63 said:
    And all of them will be 100% free of manufacturing defects, I'm sure.  /s
    High dumbassery.
    Not dumbassery at all. In my neck of the woods news media is warning about non-ISO certified glasses being sold. A local library is recalling all the glasses it handed out free because it found out they were counterfeit. As with any major event or catastrophe the charlatans are out in force trying to make a fast buck. And the price is skyrocketing too. Those simple, paper solar glasses you see are going for $10 apiece now. Unfortunately there will be people who will wind up with damaged eyesight because of this.
    OMG I hadn't read that before.  I wonder how many other Library handouts were counterfeit   If this is wide scale the ERs of America will be overflowing with innocent victims of this who stared at the sun believing they were safe to do so as they are told by doctors they have irreparable damage or blindness for life.  This should be a life sentence for those involved in the fraud even if one person suffers.  
    My my coworker bought some on amazon which were fortunately recalled before shipping.
    edited August 2017
  • Reply 11 of 28
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,862member
    MacPro said:
    lkrupp said:
    macgui said:
    What happened to using two sheets of (preferably white) cardboard, one of which has a pinhole in the center... which serves as a 'lens' to project the sun's image onto the second sheet... which itself is safe to look at directly (no other optics neeed).

    This was part of science curriculum back in the day.
    Nothing happened. Except for moving into the 21st century. Consider viewing the image via pinhole camera as compared to the pic at the top of the page, not that everyone will get that nice of a picture. While a pinhole camera is great, from kiddies, it's extremely boring for savvy adults with options.


    pscooter63 said:
    And all of them will be 100% free of manufacturing defects, I'm sure.  /s
    High dumbassery.
    Not dumbassery at all. In my neck of the woods news media is warning about non-ISO certified glasses being sold. A local library is recalling all the glasses it handed out free because it found out they were counterfeit. As with any major event or catastrophe the charlatans are out in force trying to make a fast buck. And the price is skyrocketing too. Those simple, paper solar glasses you see are going for $10 apiece now. Unfortunately there will be people who will wind up with damaged eyesight because of this.
    OMG I hadn't read that before.  I wonder how many other Library handouts were counterfeit   If this is wide scale the ERs of America will be overflowing with innocent victims of this who stared at the sun believing they were safe to do so as they are told by doctors they have irreparable damage or blindness for life.  This should be a life sentence for those involved in the fraud even if one person suffers.  
    It's not just libraries, it's a lot of them being sold. Step one is making sure they don't say China, but one of the few American manufacturing companies that list are certified and licensed to make these glasses.

    But even that's enough as it's easy to copy all the text to print on a cut piece of paper made Into glasses so you need to look for other signs fo counterfeit glasses.



    Then, even if it looks authentic, you still can't be 100% sure because the slight differences would be very easy to correct for by the knock off companies.
    edited August 2017 pscooter63
  • Reply 12 of 28
    My daughter's school had to return 1,000 pairs of fake glasses from Amazon. The school then bought 200 pairs on rush delivery from a reliable source, hoping they will arrive in time for Monday's eclipse. The local grocery store just recalled all of theirs, too. Be careful with the glasses you bought! NASA's site has good information: https://eclipse2017.nasa.gov/safety
  • Reply 13 of 28
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,399member
    Soli said:

    Then, even if it looks authentic, you still can't be 100% sure because the slight differences would be very easy to correct for by the knock off companies.
    Fuck, they're outright faking the ISO logo, too? Isn't that a felony? These motherfuckers need at least jail time since what they're doing leads to physical harm. For the record (it's too late to matter for 2017 and they're sold out everywhere, the brand EclipserHD is legitimate, if expensive (but they're high quality construction). 2024 is just around the corner, though.

    Oh, speaking of "part of science curriculum" in the deleted nested quote, the school system in the city about an hour from my own has released guidance for the eclipse: all extracurricular activities are cancelled, all recess is indoors, and all blinds must be closed. No one is to observe it at all. Never mind that school there lets out at exactly the same time that we get our maximum coverage (90%). "IF THEY DON'T SEE IT, IT DOESN'T EXIST." This corporation also banned teachers, under penalty of termination, from showing any footage of 9/11 when it happened. Meanwhile, my city's school system dragged TVs into classrooms to watch 9/11 the entire time it happened.
  • Reply 14 of 28
    MacProMacPro Posts: 18,254member
    Soli said:
    MacPro said:
    lkrupp said:
    macgui said:
    What happened to using two sheets of (preferably white) cardboard, one of which has a pinhole in the center... which serves as a 'lens' to project the sun's image onto the second sheet... which itself is safe to look at directly (no other optics neeed).

    This was part of science curriculum back in the day.
    Nothing happened. Except for moving into the 21st century. Consider viewing the image via pinhole camera as compared to the pic at the top of the page, not that everyone will get that nice of a picture. While a pinhole camera is great, from kiddies, it's extremely boring for savvy adults with options.


    pscooter63 said:
    And all of them will be 100% free of manufacturing defects, I'm sure.  /s
    High dumbassery.
    Not dumbassery at all. In my neck of the woods news media is warning about non-ISO certified glasses being sold. A local library is recalling all the glasses it handed out free because it found out they were counterfeit. As with any major event or catastrophe the charlatans are out in force trying to make a fast buck. And the price is skyrocketing too. Those simple, paper solar glasses you see are going for $10 apiece now. Unfortunately there will be people who will wind up with damaged eyesight because of this.
    OMG I hadn't read that before.  I wonder how many other Library handouts were counterfeit   If this is wide scale the ERs of America will be overflowing with innocent victims of this who stared at the sun believing they were safe to do so as they are told by doctors they have irreparable damage or blindness for life.  This should be a life sentence for those involved in the fraud even if one person suffers.  
    It's not libraries, it's a lot of them being sold. Step one is making sure they don't say China, but one of the few American manufacturing companies that list are certified and licensed to make these glasses.

    But even that's enough as it's easy to copy all the text to print on a cut piece of paper made Into glasses so you need to look for other signs fo counterfeit glasses.



    Then, even if it looks authentic, you still can't be 100% sure because the slight differences would be very easy to correct for by the knock off companies.
    I think you meant to write 'It's not 'just' libraries.'  Of course I know there are fake solar glasses everywhere however, I was responding to a specific post that mentioned Libraries and as I was trying to infer, people would trust them if they got them from a Library.  If they miss the recall the result could be horrific.  As a side bar, I wonder of there will be law suits against well intentioned, gullible Library heads after this if any injuries occur (did I just say 'if?')

    BTW,  I just read of an unscientific test but it's illuminating ;),  that if you hold a pair in front of a  your car headlights on full beam in the dark, zero light should get through, that's how light blocking solar glasses are.

    My advice for what it's worth is, if anyone is not in a total eclipse zone such as I am (Florida) where there will be hours of partial eclipse,  watch it on TV and let professionals with massive zoom lenses and solar filters show you the partial eclipse safely and of course the full eclipse too which we won't see at all. There is no second chances with a burned retina. 
    edited August 2017 Soli
  • Reply 15 of 28
    I think the "Final Thoughts" in the post are by far the most important. The picture you might get with an iPhone is almost certainly not going to be very good. If you don't have a really good telephoto clip-on lens, this is particularly true. IPhones have a pretty wide angle field of view, which means the moon and sun are going to be a scarce few pixels wide, and thus not particularly impressive in your photos. Other people will use expensive cameras and get the spectacular shots, which you can enjoy later. Your iPhone shot is only going to be a crappy "I was there" document, which will mostly be a lie if you spend most of the few moments of totality trying to get pictures of it. So instead of fumbling around with your iPhone, just look at the thing yourself and be present in the moment.
    tallest skilpscooter63
  • Reply 16 of 28
    What happened to using two sheets of (preferably white) cardboard, one of which has a pinhole in the center... which serves as a 'lens' to project the sun's image onto the second sheet... which itself is safe to look at directly (no other optics neeed).

    This was part of science curriculum back in the day.
    Exactly! Cut a small rectangle in the center of one sheet, tape a bit of tinfoil over the hole, then pierce the tinfoil with a pin.... lay the unperferated sheet on the ground and hold the one with the pinhole above it and enjoy a wonderful and safe eclipse. Bonus: if there are any sunspots, you can enjoy them as well...
  • Reply 17 of 28
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,862member
    What happened to using two sheets of (preferably white) cardboard, one of which has a pinhole in the center... which serves as a 'lens' to project the sun's image onto the second sheet... which itself is safe to look at directly (no other optics neeed).

    This was part of science curriculum back in the day.
    Exactly! Cut a small rectangle in the center of one sheet, tape a bit of tinfoil over the hole, then pierce the tinfoil with a pin.... lay the unperferated sheet on the ground and hold the one with the pinhole above it and enjoy a wonderful and safe eclipse. Bonus: if there are any sunspots, you can enjoy them as well…
    I'm not sure it's a good time to be talking about cutting holes in sheets. :smiley: 
    fastasleep
  • Reply 18 of 28
    sflagelsflagel Posts: 589member
    My recommendatin: just don't bother. The result of photographing a solar eclipse is always underwhelming and looking at the pictures afterwards will actually diminish your memory. 
  • Reply 19 of 28
    smalmsmalm Posts: 656member
    Nothing you have experienced is comparable to a total eclipse - don't miss it.
    Don't be in a city but in nature. 
    Don't bother with photo shooting - watch your surroundings.

    And as a reminder: Even the tiniest part of the sun is able burn your retina!
    Soli
  • Reply 20 of 28
    So glad I bought mine 2 months ago, I rarely think ahead but I was on the ball this time. Unfortunately I can afford neither the time nor the money to get to totality.....have to settle for 70%....hopefully I’ll not be too disappointed. Will hope for better luck for the next one.....
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