How to safely photograph the Sun


The Sun is warm, beautiful, and essential to life on Earth. We’d be in a lot more trouble if it didn’t rise and set each day. The Sun is often photographed, but it’s never the star of the show.

It would be impossible not to capture its gentle caress.

The Sun’s light is necessary for nearly all types of photography. As true as it may be (and as cheerful as it may be), astrophotography is not usually the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about it.

One of the most notable differences is that the Sun’s movement contradicts the nocturnal movements of many other popular astronomical topics. It’s not the easiest or most safe subject to photograph.

You probably heard your parents warn you to avoid staring at the Sun for too long, or you could go blind. It probably won’t surprise anyone to learn that pointing the mechanical equivalent of the human lens at the Sun would also be a bad idea.

It’s for this reason that Sun photography requires a different approach. Also, I will cover some of the specialized equipment for solar photography that you should pack in this article.

Fun fact:the Sun or full moon looks almost the same size in our skies. The Sun is much larger than the Moon in our solar system. However, the Moon is closest to Earth. This is why the eclipses are perfectly aligned, and we can enjoy them! This is a rare and special coincidence in terms of astronomical bodies.

Timing Your Sun Photography

Sun’s movements are among the most predictable astrophotography topics. The Sun rises and sets at the same time every day, but the timing varies depending on your location and the season. Except for the odd eclipse, the Sun follows a fairly regular schedule.

Solar astrophotography poses challenges in terms of safety and timing the shoot to coincide with the unique events on the Sun’s face. Sunspots, for example, may appear on the solar disk at certain times of day or year. On occasion, solar prominences and flares may also appear. This can make for a spectacular photo.

It is now easier to photograph unique astronomical events involving the Sun. For example, a solar eclipse or a planet moving by. Use an app to track eclipses, conjunctions, and events.

Tracking the weather is important, but it’s not the only thing to do. For outdoor photography, thin clouds can be perfect for diffusing the sunlight. They are not ideal for capturing a clear picture of the Sun – nor is rain or a thunderstorm! Try to limit the direct Sun exposure you get by taking your photos when the Sun is not at its highest point in the sky.

Fun fact: You can experience up to 24 hours of darkness (Polar night) in the farthest Southern and Northern Hemispheres during winter. In the summer, you can experience up to 24 hours of daylight (midnight Sun). This phenomenon offers unique opportunities for solar astrophotography, especially when it comes to creating stunning composites and long-exposure photographs.

Must-Have solar photography camera gear: Safety first

Solar photography is more than just expensive equipment and technical expertise. Safety is paramount. Packing the right equipment is the best way to protect yourself and your equipment. You should also pack astrophotography gear, such as solar filters.

The Best Camera & Lenses for Solar Photography

The brand is less important than the type of lens you choose, your camera body, and other equipment. Personal preference is the key to choosing between brands of cameras. The cameras of each brand have a different setup. This is why choosing the right camera for you when you first start out is so important. Most photographers stick with one brand for the foreseeable future since switching brands later can be expensive and confusing.

You can choose between a full-frame camera and a specialized camera for astrophotography, like a planetarium camera. Full-frame digital cameras have a larger sensor than APS-C cameras. They are better at capturing the fine details in astrophotography, both at high and low magnification. A wide-angle (14-35mm), or telephoto (300mm), lens is best for astrophotography.

Pro tip: If you want to capture highly detailed photos of distant planets and stars, such as the Sun or Moon, then a planetary camera is the best option. These cameras have a smaller sensor and higher frame rates. They can capture multiple images that you can stack. As astronomical objects are so far apart, atmospheric interference can be common. You can capture more images with these fast frame rates, which will help you create a composite. A Barlow lens will also extend the range of your telescope, bringing planets closer.

Solar & White light Filters

To photograph the Sun safely, you will need to attach a filter to your camera lens. Solar filters allow only filtered Sun to enter your camera lens, viewfinder, and eyes. This reduces the risk of damage. Lens hoods can also be used to diffuse the Sun’s rays.

You risk an overexposed photo if you let too much light in. Solar filters or filter systems still allow enough light to expose an image. Solar filters can also be used to selectively block or let in only certain light wavelengths to reveal unique Sun phenomena.

The most common filters used in solar photography are:

  • White Light Filters: blocks 99.999% of sunlight, revealing photospheres or the surface of the Sun.
  • Hydrogen Alpha Solar Filters: H alpha filters block all wavelengths of light except for the hot hydrogen atoms. They reveal solar prominences and plages.
  • UV Filters:ultraviolet filter blocks out UV light and protects film and optics from only this wavelength of sunlight.

solar sheets can be used to make solar filters for lenses, telescopes, and optical equipment. Be sure to buy solar filter sheets and solar filters only from reputable brands and test them frequently. To test the filter, shine a flashlight, a phone, or something similar through it. You shouldn’t photograph the Sun if it has streaks, patches, or spots of bright light.

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