Cameras, photographers need protection to safely capture eclipse

Posted at 9:54 PM, Aug 16, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-17 10:06:51-04

While some are in search of glasses for the solar eclipse Monday, photographers are busy making sure they're prepared to capture the moment on film.

"It's a very different thing because the sun much like the moon is a light source and to photograph a light source is very different than photographing something under a light source," said Jeff Dobbs of Mike Crivello's Camera and Imaging Center.

Mike Crivello's Camera and Imaging Center in Brookfield has been packed with customers asking questions and buying and renting gear.

"Most telephoto lenses that people don't already own..the other thing that they're renting is camera bodies because maybe they don't own as nice a camera as some of the ones that we rent," Dobbs said.

Photographers who planned ahead might already have a one time use solar filter special for the eclipse, but it's sold out many places.  Mike Crivello's decided not to carry the filter, but suggest some more affordable methods like a filter from welders mask.  They're also sending customers to Milwaukee's Mainstage Theatrical Supply for a gel filter.

"The way neutral density works is it cuts the light, the wave lengths down in an even manner so they're just using it to reduce the amount of light coming into the cameras," said Nic Trapani of MainStage Theatrical Supply.

The material is not to be used in replace of glasses, but you can cut the gel up into different pieces and tape them to your lens.

"You can definitely layer on top of itself and create the desired effect as you go," Trapani said.

As for technique, turn off your auto focus.

"Most people will put it on manual focus and focus all the way to infinity," Dobbs said.

Photographers should adjust the shutter speed as they go. 

"With the 17 stop reduction in light coming in through it, it's pretty much gonna be a guessing game as to the proper exposure to shoot by," Dobbs said.

Dobbs suggests setting your ISO to 200 and the F-top to about F11.

"People are gonna have to do a couple shots real quick because you only have a couple minutes."

If you're in the path of totality, remove the filter when everything goes black and put it back on when the sun starts to peek out from the moon.

Your cell phone might not be enough.

"The cell phone, much like the automated camera, would have its weakness in the fact of trying to over ride it because its chances are it won't come up with the proper exposure to begin with," Dobbs said.

Being able to adjust quickly has a lot to do with getting that perfect shot.

"I think that we're gonna end up with some people who get the really nice pictures and some people who probably aren't gonna get much of anything," Dobbs said.