How to photograph total solar eclipse 2024: Tips and precautions

As the total solar eclipse 2024, approaches, I'm excited to capture this moment more skillfully using my current phone
An undated image shows a solar eclipse. — Unsplash
An undated image shows a solar eclipse. — Unsplash

Some of you might remember the solar eclipse back in 2017. For many of us, capturing the eclipse turned out to be a disappointing experience as the pictures didn't turn out as we expected. However, this time, on total solar eclipse 2024, let's learn from our mistakes.

Since then, technology has evolved significantly, particularly in smartphones. Modern phones now feature advanced telephoto lenses, enhancing the quality of close-up photography. As the total solar eclipse on April 8, 2024, approaches — a rare event for those of us in the US, with the next one not until August 2024 — I'm excited to capture this moment more skillfully using my current phone.

Capturing the upcoming eclipse is something anyone can do. However, there are techniques to make your photos more unique and stand out, especially among the numerous images that will flood social media later in the day. Here are some tips on how to do that.

Capturing total solar eclipse 2024 with a Phone

Today's smartphones, particularly those that are known for their cameras, promise far better results. They not only provide a superior dynamic range for balancing contrasting exposures but also feature dedicated optical zoom cameras for enhanced detail.

There's an ongoing debate about the safety of pointing phone cameras directly at the sun. Based on my experience photographing various sun scenes, I have found no damage to my phone. Unlike DSLRs with long-range telephoto lenses, which can harm their larger sensors due to intensified and focused images, smartphones are less vulnerable due to their smaller sensors.

Nevertheless, I must emphasise the importance of using proper precautions, such as a solar filter, when photographing the eclipse with your phone. You can either use solar eclipse glasses or acquire a specialised smartphone solar lens for this purpose.

Here is how to capture this year's solar eclipse:

1. Position phone towards the sun with a solar filter

Attach the solar lens to your phone or cover your camera with solar eclipse glasses, then aim your phone at the sun. For optimal results, switch to your phone's telephoto camera to capture more of the sun in your shot.

2. Adjust focus and exposure

The solar lens or glasses will help reduce the sun's intensity. Tap on the screen to set focus and use the exposure slider to reduce brightness. On iPhones, adjust exposure by dragging the sun icon that appears after focusing. On Android devices, you can similarly adjust the exposure.

3. Click!

Once you’ve set the focus and exposure correctly, you can take the photo of the total solar eclipse 2024. If your phone’s telephoto camera allows, try zooming in further for a closer view. Remember, increased zoom may require steadiness, so consider using a tripod and phone holder for stability.