August 21 isn't just a regular day this year - until the time and place for solar eclipse 2017 was discovered. The day will see one of the rarest celestial events when the Moon will pass between the Earth and Sun and cause a brief moment of darkness. A total solar eclipse can be a beautiful and cathartic sight to behold and millions of people in the US are gearing up to experience the event. Almost everyone viewing the eclipse, even partially, will want to capture the image on their smartphones.
Of course, professional photographers will have their DSLR gear on, but for many of us, our smartphones are our cameras, and for those thinking about taking photographs of the solar eclipse with their smartphones, here are a few things to keep in mind.
These are some of the ways to capture the Great American Eclipse, which is set to take place on Monday starting 10:15 am PDT (10:45 pm IST) near Depoe Bay, Oregon and will reach its totality at around 2:49 pm EDT (12:19 am IST) near Charleston, South Carolina.
The first and most obvious tip that is being given by everyone including NASA is to wear solar eclipse glasses. While these glasses will protect you from damaging your eyes while viewing the eclipse, getting another pair of glasses to wrap around your smartphone will also protect your device's camera from getting damaged. NASA says that camera sensors could be damaged when pointing towards the eclipse, although Apple has claimed that iPhone handsets cannot be harmed when capturing the solar eclipse.
Choose the right smartphone
If you're going to want to capture that perfect eclipse photo for your next wallpaper, you're going to need a good camera smartphone. Luckily, there are a few smartphones out there with killer cameras. The iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, Google Pixel, Samsung Galaxy S8, and Galaxy S8+ are some of the best cameras you can find in a smartphone today.
On the slightly lower end of the price segment, you have the OnePlus 5 with dual cameras that should also get you some good snaps as well as the Honor 8 Pro. Budget and mid-range smartphones today also come with decent cameras, but may not be enough to capture those stunning eclipse photos.
Set up the camera for the perfect solar eclipse shot
Don't expect the camera to do all the work for you. A solar eclipse is a tricky time for cameras as you need to get that exposure level just right. It is recommended that you set the exposure lower so that the camera can adjust to the brightness of the sun. Lowering the exposure will help you get a clearer view when focusing on the light around the sun.
While you're at it, you should also turn off the autofocus and flash as the camera will constantly try to adjust the sensor to focus on the eclipse which can ruin the photograph.
Additionally, attaching a lens to the smartphone will give you the boost in zoom to get a clearer look at the solar eclipse. This is when modular smartphones like the Moto Z2 Force comes in handy with the ability to attach professional Hasselblad mods for that added professional flair.
A tripod or gimbal will also come in handy to fix the position of your smartphone while you constantly look at the eclipse to adjust your shot. Tripods also let you set a timer or take time-lapse videos so that you can record and leave your smartphone to capture the entire eclipse.
Photo apps for some extra magic
Your smartphone camera can only do so much, for everything else there are apps. You can get more out of the solar eclipse photograph with the right photo app. There are a number of photo editing apps that can give you the tools to tune your photo just right. RAW images are the best to for detailed photos and while some smartphones have the option to capture RAW images, there are apps as well that will help you do that such as Manual or Snap Camera.