On 21st of August US is going to witness the total solar eclipse for about three minutes. Such a big event is sure to make the headlines and take social media by storm. After all, total solar eclipses are rare events.
The best pictures will be those taken with fancy DSLR cameras, but when all you got is a smartphone, you should learn how to take the perfect eclipse photo with it. Then you will be able to post it on Instagram, to amaze your friends.
Smartphone cameras are not built to photograph an eclipse, but they can do it. If you are on the path of totality, you will be able to get a nice picture of the event, even if it may be a little grainy. To be able to benefit from the smartphone camera as much as possible, avoid zooming. To do this, use a telephoto lens attachment, which provide a better image, without having to use the zoom feature of your smartphone. There are multiple lens attachments you can get, like Olloclip or Photojojo Iris. Smartphones use digital zoom, which leads to a low-quality photo. On the other side, telephoto lens use optical zoom, which preserve all the details and result in a high quality image.
For an eclipse, you should use lenses with a zoom between 12x and 18x. You can also add a solar filter to your smartphone, to be able to focus even more on the eclipse. For this you can also use a pair of eclipse sunglasses.
A tripod is another useful gear, as it will reduce the amount of noise from the picture.
Before you actually photograph the eclipse, you should practice a little. Try to photograph the moon. This will give you an idea on how to use the gear and you will be able to fine tune the settings. It's best to shoot in RAW, if you have this option, as other formats lose a lot of the details, especially during night-time, which is similar to the actual eclipse moment. If your smartphone doesn't have the RAW option, use a dedicated app, like Procam or Camera FV5.
By photographing the moon you can also practice installing the gear and you can experiment with the timer. After all, you don't want to look at the camera for the entire three minutes of an eclipse.
Tips for getting the perfect solar eclipse photo on your smartphone
To inspire you to practice your skills at shooting the eclipse, here are some of the most beautiful images of similar events.