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How To Safely Photograph The Idaho Eclipse, With Your Smartphone Or Camera

AP Images
People watch and prepare to photograph the total solar eclipse from Yugoslav village of Horgos August 11, 1999.

As the solar eclipse is now just days away, many people have already planned where they’ll watch it in Idaho. But what’s your plan for photographing the phenomenon?

When it comes to shooting eclipse photos with your digital camera, the same rule applies as viewing it with your naked eye: You’ve got to have a filter. Dennis Nagel with Idaho Camera says digital cameras have delicate sensors.

“In some ways they’re more sensitive to it than our eyes in that the lenses can actually magnify the intensity of the sun," says Nagel. "And it can damage the sensors in the cameras because it’s so intense.”

Nagel says if the sensor gets damaged, it could mean an expensive repair — if it can be repaired at all. His shop is selling a filter kit for $32, but they’re going fast. As far as smartphones go, he recommends using a filter on those as well.

But according to USA Today, smartphones are safe to use without a filter because of the wide angle lens. In the article, Apple says that lens is different from what’s in digital cameras that have a large focal length.

No matter what you use to capture photos of the eclipse, Nagel says to pay attention to what’s happening around you. He says there will be a panoramic sunset that will happen during totality, when the moon completely covers up the sun.

“So you need to at least stop and pause and take a look, rather than just be staring at the sun. And you might get some really interesting shots there.”

He says the time to get shots during totality will go by quickly, and encourages photographers to set up their camera before the show starts.

Find reporter Frankie Barnhill on Twitter @FABarnhill

Copyright 2017 Boise State Public Radio

Frankie Barnhill was the Senior Producer of Idaho Matters, Boise State Public Radio's daily show and podcast.

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