Preparing for the Total Eclipse – Safety and Photography

Total eclipses are not necessarily rare when they are rare is when they are over large populated areas especially over the continental united states. While most of the United states will be seeing the crescent shape of the sun of viewed though glasses or projection methods. There is a thin strip through the united states around 70 miles wide that will be in what is called totality. This is when the moon completely blocks the sun and we see the suns corona. During this 1-2.5 min  of totality you still can damage your eyes.  Your vision can still be damaged by UV rays at totality. During the whole eclipse you better have you solar glasses or pin hole projectors on. If not your vision may be permanently damaged. This is where it gets scary with younger kids and people in general. Even in totality it is not recommended to stare at the sun. So do what you parents told you as a kid don’t look at the sun.   

Credit: NASA

My family is going to be going to the path of totality. It is only about 40 miles from me. What I am scared of is the risk that there will be to non understanding children.  I have some ways I am planing to go about this. While glasses are good and all. They are not 100%.  So I don’t want to really give my kids the impression that is an option. So what I have done is generated alternative safer ways for kids to view the eclipse or sun in general. 

  1. View the eclipse though Live view on my camera. What live view is is basic the view finder through the lcd screen meaning optical you have no line of sight to the sun optically directly.
  2. Use a telescope reflector plate – This is a plate you put at the end of your telescope that projects the sun on it that you can view safely. 
  3. Use a pin hole projector. – You can see the sun if you punch a hole in a pice of paper or card stock or something and put a pice of paper on the ground and you can see the sun as a circle of light on the ground. As the eclipse happens you will see the eclipse live on the ground.

Some safe ways to view the eclipse can be had at

For Photography I have always wanted to shoot an Solar eclipse. I have done lunar eclipses before. I wanted to experience a solar event and shoot it.

2008 Lunar Eclipse I photographed

To take pictures of a solar eclipse research needs to be done and practice. First difficulty I found was getting solar filters.  They were sold out every where and manufactures could not produce them quick enough.  After a few try to get one that screwed onto the lens and canceled orders because of stock.  I remberd I had a 3D printer. 🙂 So I went to work on getting solar film that was almost just as difficult. I ordered film from 4 different places 2 of them got canceled because even though they said they had it in stock they did not.  I went and spent over 100$ for the film and shipping to get it here before the eclipse. I ordered it from 2 places just in case and suprisngly I got it. I went on thing verse and was able to find most of the sizes of filter holder for the lenses we would be using.

58mm,63mm(had to scale),72mm and I made the filters.


Next step was testing and setup selection. I do not have the best lenses or equipment but I will make it work. What I have decided on using is the following.


-Canon 60D, T5i, 20D, The 60D and T5i will handle 2x 300mm lenses and I may use the 20D for a wide angle shot of me and the sun during the eclipse. We will see. Main focus will be the 60D.
-Lenses: Vivitar 300mm f5.6 Pentax lens with m42-EOS adaptor from the 60s, Canon 70-300mm f3.5-5.6
-Various tripods that are not great:
-Cactus 6v MKII triller used as shutter release
-Magic lanter firmware for advanced bracketing

Next was testing setup. What I found was 300mm with a crop sense trying to line up the sun seems to be safest setup. I had a 3x teleconverter however I can never line up the sun correctly.

I found out that you should never target the sun with you looking in the suns direction. First time I did this is a used solar glasses to get it in the ballpark then live view. I started seeing spots when flipping between the glasses and the camera because I was looking in the suns direction and wasn’t a good or safe way to do it. What I found is you can print or make whats called a solar finder for a camera. I found this is the best way to get in the ball park. However if it is made of white material wear at least sun glasses to help with the reflection.

With this you sort of treat it like a sun dial you aim tell you have no more shadow gets you in the ball park.

Next was testing. First of all I had to find a day it was not raining. I was able to test some during my lunch break. The results seem good I even saw sunspots.  I think I am ready for most of the eclipse. My only worry is during totality I hope I am ready and there is no clouds. Practice Practice Practice. I am going to get all my focuses down today and to marrow and mark focus points on my lenses.  

Sun Picture is at 300mm, f5.6, 1/60, 640iso. The suns moving and you have a long sense general rule of thumb is to have the shutter speed faster than your focal length but a solar filter blocks 99.9999% of the light from the sun so I find it needs a tad more exposure.  

New Exposure taken today.  Its neat how the location of the sunspots has changed because we are moving.  around. 🙂


Remember to be safe have fun experience a for some once in a life time event. Ohh one more thing DO NOT LOOK AT THE SUN DURING NON TOTALITY. Even with glasses just glance. 

~ Brian Hursey

Disclamer:  I am not a profesional in solar safety nor am I responsible for damage to your eyes. Do your research deeply prior to the eclipse for safety.