BUFFALO, NY - Capturing the perfect photograph of the Great American Eclipse requires time, patience, and enough funds to pay for a relatively advanced camera and all of the appropriate lenses and settings; there are camera lenses priced in the same range as small motorcycles that will be aimed at the sky on August 21st.
Those aren’t luxuries everyone can afford.
Alan Friedman calls himself “citizen photographer,” with his hobby of astro-photography already gaining him some noteworthy success.
The former president of the Buffalo Astronomical Association has already been featured in his own Ted Talk, and is considered one of the pioneers in his field.
His love for the all things extra-terrestrial transcends his love of capturing them in photographs.
"You see something exciting, you want to take a picture of it,” said Friedman. “It used to be much harder with film, and now everybody’s got their phone in their pocket, so you can record anything that's going on, in real time or in still pictures too."
The first—and most important tip—Friedman has for anyone looking to capture a shot of the solar eclipse is this: find a group of people, preferably at a viewing event.
Not only will it enhance your own experience, according to Friedman, but it will also give you the greatest chance at snapping some fantastic photos with everything from your professional camera to your personal cell phone.
“If you go to one of those sites that’s going to have a bunch of people with telescopes, as long as you don't use up too much time, you bring your iPhone, I'm sure the owners of the telescopes will allow you to attempt to capture a quick picture with your iPhone through the eye piece of a telescope,” said Friedman.
Yes, you can also take a pair of eclipse glasses to try and snag your own picture with a smartphone, but Kevin Williams from the Whitworth Ferguson Planetarium recommended another idea if a smartphone is your best option.
“One of the best things to do or easiest things to do with a phone is to take a picture of a projection of the sun,” said Williams. “It’s not as interesting maybe, but it’s a lot easier and a lot safer."
And if that doesn’t satisfy your appetite, Friedman said capturing the effect of the eclipse on shadows can be just as fascinating.
"Focus the light from the sun on the ground through a cheese grater, and as the sun becomes a scallop shape, you will see many little scallop shapes on the ground,” said Friedman. “You're not aware of the shadow cast by the sun normally because it’s a full circle, but once it becomes a crescent, you will see that crescent repeated, you'll see it through trees... It's a crazy phenomenon and it's something to look for."
The most important factor in capturing a photo of the eclipse, said Friedman, is not losing out on enjoying the spectacle itself.
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