So, you want to get some pictures or videos of next month's solar eclipse? If you want to try with your smartphone, good luck. Chances are, your pictures from an iPhone or Android device of the moon passing between Earth and the sun will not be anything to write home about or post to Facebook. A smartphone camera doesn't have the lens to get good shots of something out of this world.
You can get memorable pictures of the once-in-a-lifetime event if you take the following steps:
Don't set your sights on the sun. Your best chance of taking memorable photos with a phone is by pointing the camera earthward toward your friends.
Try a slow-motion or time-lapse setting on your device. These features will capture terrific memories by showing people as the sun goes behind the moon. By setting up a camera and shooting time-lapse, you'll capture video of friends' reactions to the event as the sky begins to darken.
If you use slow-mo or time-lapse make sure the camera is still. Consider setting it up on a tripod or a mini-stabilizer such as the Gorilla Pod which wraps around a pole or chair or tree. These work especially well if they have magnets on the feet as they'll stick to any metal object or stick to each other as it's wrapped around a tree. These are also good to set the camera on a car or truck. Time-lapse videos are not very good if the camera is shaky, plus you don't want to concentrate on pointing the camera at the sky or at friends.
Put the camera on airplane mode. You don't want the camera to stop recording because you get a phone call.
If you're in the path of totality (total coverage of the sun) you can point the phone at the sun when it's completely hidden by the moon. You might even be able to capture the "diamond ring" which is a small band of light that's emitted around the sun.
If you're trying to capture that shot, turn off the flash. A flash will dampen the darkness closest to the phone which will lessen the true effect of the eclipse. It will also annoy and distract the people around you.
Set the focus on the moon once it begins to cross the path of the sun.
Do shoot the event in landscape (hold the phone sideways rather than up and down.
Look at finding a wide-angle lens which will capture video or photos of the moon as it approaches the sun. ? Practice. No one in the U.S. has ever been able to practice on what will happen during a total eclipse (unless they've traveled to other parts of the world). Practice shooting the moon. It will give some perspective on how small it will be in the sky.
You're not going to get great photos of the eclipse with a smartphone. There will be thousands of photos and videos by professional photographers with the equipment to shoot the event which will be posted everywhere. Enjoy those photos and get photos of your friends instead.
Don't miss the event because you're fooling with your camera. This is a once-in-a-lifetime eclipse in the U.S. and you don't want to miss the experience by adjusting a phone.
Set the phone on a tripod, set it to a time-lapse or slow-motion and leave it alone.
Do wear glasses made for eclipse watching. Sunglasses will not protect your eyes if you're looking directly at the sun.
And while we're on it, DON'T LOOK DIRECTLY AT THE SUN!
There are specialty filters and lenses for smartphone cameras.
We'll look at those at a later date.
There are lenses and tripods to help capture the perfect (or as good as you can get with a phone) photo and video.