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How to photograph the solar eclipse like a pro |

How to photograph the solar eclipse like a pro

Brian C. Rittmeyer
| Thursday, August 10, 2017 3:57 p.m

Pics or it didn’t happen, right?

When millions of Americans look to the sky later this month — wearing the proper safety glasses — a bunch of them will probably have their phone or camera in hand to grab a picture of the once-in-a-lifetime solar eclipse.

But as anyone who has tried to snap a photo of the sunset will tell you, capturing spectacular celestial events with your camera or phone often yields less than stellar results.

The solar eclipse will occur Aug. 21. In Western Pennsylvania, we’ll be treated to a nearly total eclipse while other places in the country will see a total eclipse.

Here a few tips on how to photograph the solar eclipse, whether for Instagram or your living room wall.

1) Safety first.

Wear solar-filtering glasses. On eclipse day, the cardboard specs that look like a cross between classic 3D glasses and something your optometrist gives you will be all the rage. Why? Because looking at the sun, even if most of it is covered by the moon, is dangerous. So when you’re lining up your shot, make sure you have the proper glasses on.

2) Tips from a pro.

Chris Pietsch is the director of photography for the Register-Guard, the newspaper in Eugene, Ore., one of the places where the moon will completely block the sun. He has spent months preparing for the eclipse. He shares his tips in this how-to video. His advice: Come prepared or don’t bother .

3) Smartphone success.

For those of you without a big camera, NASA put out some tips for how to capture a good shot with your smartphone . The space agency recommends covering your smartphone lens with glasses similar to the ones you’ll be wearing, but others have disagreed .

Either way, set up your phone on a tripod and be ready to manually adjust the focus and the exposure during the eclipse. NASA recommends practicing by taking photos of the moon.

4) Take a time-lapse.

Take your smartphone camera game to the next level by using the time-lapse feature to capture the solar eclipse. Use a tripod, select the time-lapse setting on your phone’s camera and start shooting well before — five minutes or so before — the eclipse starts, according to a how-to in USA Today . Plan to shoot about 20 minutes to create a two- to three-minute video.

If you have other eclipse photo tips to share, leave them in the comments below.

Aaron Aupperlee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at, 412-336-8448 or via Twitter @tinynotebook.

Brian C. Rittmeyer is a Tribune-Review staff reporter. You can contact Brian at 724-226-4701 or

Brian C. Rittmeyer | Tribune-Review
Michelle Ortasic, circulation manager for the Community Library of Allegheny Valley in Harrison, wears a pair of the eclipse glasses the library will have available for patrons during the solar eclipse on Aug. 21.
Brian C. Rittmeyer | Tribune-Review
Eclipse glasses are being made and marketed for the solar eclipse on Aug. 21. Using such glasses is the only way to safely look at the eclipse directly, but eye doctors urge viewers to use extreme caution and make sure glasses meet safety standards.
FILE - In this May 20, 2012, file photo, the annular solar eclipse is seen as the sun sets behind the Rocky Mountains from downtown Denver. The solar eclipse that is cutting a diagonal path across the U.S. next month is a boon for Missouri tourism. Some towns will have more visitors than residents on Aug. 21, 2017. Hotels and campsites are sold out as some communities are preparing for unparalleled numbers of visitors, all to observe about two minutes of near-darkness at the height of the day. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)
FILE - In this Wednesday, Aug. 2, 2017 file photo, Emmalyn Johnson, 3, tries on her free pair of eclipse glasses at Mauney Memorial Library in Kings Mountain, N.C. Glasses are being given away at the library for free while supplies last ahead of the big event on Aug. 21.
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