How to (not) shoot a solar eclipse

solar eclipse

I went searching and found a few pages describing how to shoot the sun during a solar eclipse. All warned against looking at the sun directly.

So, I ignored all that advice and got out my 75-300mm lens and grabbed a couple of shots of the sun with a chunk bitten out of it by the moon. Thankfully the clouds provided a bit of a filter but my eyes are still watering a bit. Worth it?

With hindsight, what the hell was I thinking? I’m lucky my eye is fine, but if you’re going to shoot a solar eclipse, don’t look through the viewfinder. Set your camera up on a tripod and project an image of the sun on a white sheet of cardboard and then press the shutter button. Much safer than actually looking..

Aperture ƒ/45
Camera Canon EOS 20D
Focal length 300mm
ISO 100
Shutter speed 1/8000s




  1. Reply
    Debbie August 1, 2008

    Wow, definitely. 🙂

  2. Reply
    niall larkin August 1, 2008

    Really nice.

  3. Reply
    Margaret Jordan August 1, 2008

    Great shot!

  4. Reply
    cgarvey August 1, 2008

    Worth it (*). Defo!

    * Assuming no lasting damage, or if there is the lasting damage is not *too* bad.

  5. Reply
    Donncha August 1, 2008

    Eyes are ok now. I tried hard to shoot the sun at full power by watching when sunlight streamed into the eye piece, from the side. When cloud covered the sun it was easier as you can see above. The cloud did a great job of filtering the full glare.

    Must clean this lens though. I had to remove lots of dust marks and there’s a hair visible in a few other shots.

  6. Reply
    Rune August 1, 2008

    Nice shot! I took some pictures, but since it was (is) a clear blue sky, I added some filters to my lens, and ignored (of course) every warning ’bout hurting my eyes – and I’m still able to use my Mac…

    Looks kinda nice 🙂


  7. Reply
    Donncha August 1, 2008

    Rune – I replaced your blogdns url with your blog url because the blogdns url didn’t load. Great photos 🙂

  8. Reply
    Tom Raftery August 1, 2008

    Excellent shot Donncha – but NOTHING is worth putting your sight at risk!!!


  9. Reply
    Luis Rull August 1, 2008

    I do agree with Tom. There are many ways of watching an eclipse. Next time,

  10. Reply
    Phil August 1, 2008

    nice shot – though i read one of those links on google search results and they all got me worried about my eyesight, and camera sensor. never would have thought of it damaging the sensor.

    what settings did u use? tripod?

  11. Reply
    Donncha August 1, 2008

    Phil – just pointed the camera in P mode. Tried to look through the viewfinder from the side. When the lens wouldn’t focus I tried manual focus but that didn’t work too well either because that meant I’d have to look through the viewfinder ..

  12. Reply
    Latchiko August 1, 2008

    You’re a brave man! It’s a really nice shot but a risky one. If a magnifying glass can start a fire I shudder to think what a 300mm lens could do to an eye!

  13. Reply
    davew August 1, 2008

    Despite the beautiful photo, I’m going to say it wasn’t worth it – because I suspect that the final impact on your eyesight isn’t yet fully apparent.

  14. Reply
    Gamma Goblin August 2, 2008

    “Set your camera up on a tripod and project an image of the sun on a white sheet of cardboard and then press the shutter button.”

    Its funny how I wrote this in a comment but my comment never showed up and then you edited your post later on. Very funny indeed… hmmmm… 🙂

  15. Reply
    Gamma Goblin August 2, 2008

    I also mentioned using welding glass btw.

  16. Reply
    Donncha August 3, 2008

    GG – you know, that comment rings a bell, but I can’t find mention of it, either in the moderation emails or regular comment emails. It’s bizarre!

  17. Reply
    Gamma Goblin August 3, 2008

    Spooky 🙂

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