Photographing the Sun

The most powerful point source of light is a marvel to photograph, especially when a once-in-a-lifetime solar eclipse occurs.

But it is not without its challenges. Photographing the sun during a regular morning can be challenging enough so let this blog post clear up any mysteries in how you too can safely photograph the sun.

The sun might not be the most popular subject to photograph for many people, but when you take the right precautions, you can come out with many different types of photos. It’s both a challenge and joy to be able to photograph something and come out with what you had envisioned beforehand.

Photographing an Eclipse

A solar eclipse might be a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence for some people so it goes without saying that you should prepare yourself well in advance if you want to photograph it. A solar eclipse happens when the moon crosses paths between earth and the sun, blocking the sun as seen from earth.

This blog post won’t go through the camera settings for an eclipse—I’ll save that for another post. In this post I’ll go through some safety tips in photographing the sun during normal conditions.

The sun is a powerful point source light so you should always take great precautions when pointing your lens toward the sun. Never view the sun with the naked eye as it can permanently damage your eyes.

DSLR Users

If you use a dSLR camera, never look at the sun through the viewfinder as the lens elements in your lens and viewfinder will concentrate the sunlight directly to your eyes.

Mirrorless Camera Users

If you’re using a mirrorless camera, then your electronic viewfinder is only a representation of the sunlight coming into your sensor and not the actual sunlight coming into your eyes, so it’s not as harmful.

Still, I recommend you use your camera’s Live View mode for viewing and composing your images when you photograph the sun as some people may find the sunlight still bright on a mirrorless camera’s viewfinder.

Tips for Photographing the Sun

Tip 1: Never leave your camera pointed toward the sun

When you’re done photographing the sun, change the direction of the lens so it’s no longer pointing at the sun. This way you don’t have the sun pointing through your lens and sensor all the time, which may damage your gear. If you’re using a tripod, simply point it another direction when you in between shots or taking a short break.

Tip 2: Use different focal lengths for various perspectives of the sun

Using a variety of lenses to get a different perspective of the sun is a great way to see the sun in its ever changing ways. You can use a wide angle shot to place the sun smaller in your frame and get more of the environment.

Or, you can use a telephoto lens to really get close-up shots of the sun to see the sun in ways you may not normally see it.

Tip 3: Use a smaller aperture (larger f-number) like f/11 or f/16 to get a sunstar in your image

If you ever have the sun partially visible in your frame, for example covered by leaves or something else in the foreground, using a smaller aperture will yield in a more pleasing sunstar to your images.

Tip 4: Use the atmospheric conditions for varying looks of the sun

The sun will look very different if you were to see it during a clear morning than on a cold, wintery, and blistery morning. It would look even more dramatic on a foggy day over water. Take advantage of the different weather conditions you have around you to see the sun in various ways.

I am fortunate to live by a lake so I have been able to capture the sunrise by the lake in several different weather conditions, capturing the sunlight in several surreal circumstances.

Tip 5: Use filters like a solar filter to take even more creative solar photography

Using a solar filter can add a level of complexity to taking photographs, but when you’re able to get it right, you can get some really unique images out of them. More importantly, if you have a solar filter, you can use it to capture the solar eclipse too!

Final Thoughts

With enough precautions, there are so many different ways you can take photos of the sun. I love seeing the details of the sun with a solar filter, and I also love to see the sun in different atmospheric conditions. The winter time can be quite the sight during the really frigid mornings.

I hope this gives you a little more inspiration in trying out solar photography. You can watch my YouTube videos, linked below, on all this information and more.

Let me know in the comments below if you enjoy solar photography too.

Solar Eclipse Viewing Glasses

If you’re interested in purchasing solar eclipse viewing glasses, please consider buying them from my affiliate link below. I’ve partnered with local high school students to spread awareness of Monarch Butterflies and Solar Eclipses.

Buy Your Solar Eclipse Viewing Glasses Here!


Watch my two-video series on solar photography. Part 1 is Solar Photography and Part 2 talks about Solar Filters.

Part 1: Solar Photography

Part 2: Solar Filters

Let me know if you’ve ever considered photographing the sun, or if you have any other questions!

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