David Papp Blog

Are You Ready for the Total Solar Eclipse on Monday August 21?


For those of you who don’t know already, or those who do, here are some helpful tips for the Total Solar Eclipse (TSE) event occurring in North America on Monday, August 21. The last north American TSE was in 1979.

Many are suggesting this will be the most photographed event yet in human history.

  • NASA has an interactive Google-like map to show you the 70-mile wide path across the USA. (See NASA’s Map)
  • TimeAndDate.com has a great site telling you exact times for the Eclipse in your city and what it will look like (helpful if you are not in the path of the total eclipse).

Here is an example for Edmonton, Canada (which is only partial):     https://www.timeanddate.com/eclipse/in/canada/edmonton

  • Edmonton partial eclipse begins at 10:24 am and ends at 12:49 pm, with the maximum coverage at 11:35 am. Be sure to find the local times for your city on August 21st.

What is a Total Solar Eclipse?

A total (partial) solar eclipse is when the moon passes between the sun and earth, and it fully (partially) blocks the sun.  It will get dark out, the air temperature will cool down, birds/animals get confused, and there are amazing photographic opportunities.

Viewing Tips

  • Never view the sun with your naked eye or binoculars or telescopes!!
  • Sunglasses do not work!
  • If you are in the path of totality, you can only view the sun during the 2 minutes of totality (when the moon completely blocks the sun).
  • You will need to make a sun viewer or have approved solar glasses. (How to make a sun viewer: https://www.exploratorium.edu/eclipse/how-to-view-eclipse)

Photographing Tips

  • Turn off your flash! Especially during the limited window of totality.
  • Be sure your cameras with zoom lenses have appropriate solar filters (general ND filters will not work).
  • If you are in the path of totality, filters remain on during everything except during actual totality where you may temporarily remove your solar filters for the 2 minutes.
  • Practice, practice, practice!   Test out your cameras and filters now before Monday, August 21.  Totality will happen very fast and you don’t want to miss the moment.
  • Cover your camera / lens with a white towel. It will be hot out. Also you can use it to see your live view better.
  • Practice your manual focus if you are shooting with a DSLR and zoom. Taking multiple pictures are different exposures (fixed ISO, fixed f-stop, variable shutter speed) will be key especially during totality. There are some super interesting opportunities available such as Baily’s Beads and Diamond Ring during C2 and C3.
  • Don’t forget to take selfies with the eclipse in background. Take in the excitement, live the moment!
  • Using a smartphone?  Your eclipse photos will look 100% better than the average photos that will flood social media that day if you place the solar glasses in front of your smartphone. It’s a trick used by many using sunglasses for regular outdoor landscape photos.Also don’t rely on auto-focus. Learn to “tap” the moon on your camera screen to lock the focus and slide your finger up/down to darken/lighten the exposure.On iPhones, tapping the object will show a sun icon and this is the exposure slider. Android devices are different, e.g. Samsung Galaxy S5 tap the gear icon to see settings then gear again for camera/video settings then again for master settings, exposure is halfway down the list. Here are many helpful tips for smartphone photos by NASA: Tips from NASA! (PDF Download)

Helpful Apps

  • Total Solar Eclipse 2017 by Exploratorium will have 5 free video live streams of the total solar eclipse from different locations.
  • Smithsonian Solar Eclipse app will also live stream the eclipse and provides access to the interactive eclipse map and virtual view using eclipse simulator.
  • Total Eclipse Timer app is handy if you are in the path of totality. Talking timer for key events (C1/C2/MID/C3/C4) for your exact viewing position. It will announce “Glasses Off” at 2nd contact (C2) and “Glasses On” right before 3rd contact (C3) – which is also helpful for removing and adding back your camera solar filters.
  • MyRadar (Pro) app is a fast way to see animated weather radar at viewing location.

Clear Skies!

We are looking forward to this event and hope you are all able to experience it as well. The moon hiding the sun to reveal its stunning corona will be spectacular.