Viewing Through the Lens: Safe Solar Filming Techniques

On April 8, 2024, millions of people around the United States turned their attention to the sky to witness a once in a lifetime event: a total solar eclipse. The event offered an unparalleled opportunity for photography and video enthusiasts to capture the spectacle. However, one cannot take the image of the sun lightly; improper shooting could result in serious eye damage, and even cost someone their vision. Solar photography and videography can be a beautiful and rewarding experience, but knowing how to do it properly is crucial.

Solar Filming Techniques and Tips

One of the best ways to safely capture images of the sun is through solar viewing glasses, which are specifically designed to block out the sun’s worst rays that could potentially damage your vision. Look for glasses that are CE-certified to ensure the highest level of protection. These reliable glasses offer protection from ultraviolet rays and the harshly bright glare of the sun. It’s important to wear the glasses the entire time you’re looking at the sun, as even a few seconds of exposure to the sun can lead to damage.

If you’re looking to capture the solar show from an up-close perspective, there are many options for solar filters you can use while shooting. Solar filters are a great choice for photographers and videographers because they block out the intensity of the sun’s rays and allow for excellent filtration of the sun’s light. Choose a filter that is specifically designed for solar viewing and photography, and be sure it is placed directly in front of your lens. It’s important to use caution when filming with a solar filter, as looking at the sun through it can cause long-term damage.

Another technique to help reduce the glare when shooting the sun is to use a “limb” filter. This special type of solar filter features a hole through the darker area of the filter that allows some of the sun’s corona to shine through. This can create a beautiful effect that looks like you’re looking at the sun through a telescope.

Solar Photography and Video Safety

Regardless of the equipment being used, it’s crucial that anyone looking to take photographs and videos of the sun make safety paramount. Always remember to not only use a sun-blocking device to protect your vision, but also consider your composition and capture the natural beauty. It’s important to keep in mind that even when using the right equipment, prolonged exposure to the sun can cause permanent damage to your images or video equipment. Most experts agree that the best way to capture the beauty of the sun is to use caution and shoot for short periods of time.

If you’re planning to take images of the sun during a solar event like an eclipse, it is important to also take note of the apparent white light that can be seen in the sun’s vicinity. It’s important to take shots throughout the event to see how the increasing levels of light affect your camera and lens. You may also need to adjust your aperture settings to ensure the best results, and some photographers might even shoot in smaller apertures to increase the image’s depth of field.

The allure of capturing the sun, especially during phenomenal events like solar eclipses or transits, can be irresistible for amateur and professional videographers alike. However, the sun’s intense light poses significant risks, not only to our eyes but also to our filming equipment. Safely filming solar events requires a blend of preparation, the right equipment, and a deep understanding of safe solar filming practices. This guide will illuminate the essential techniques to ensure both you and your gear remain unscathed while capturing the sun’s awe-inspiring beauty.

Understanding the Hazards

Directly filming the sun without proper protection can lead to irreversible damage to your camera’s sensor. For the human eye, the danger is even greater, with potential for permanent vision loss. The risks multiply during a solar eclipse, as the sudden darkness can cause our pupils to dilate, allowing more of the sun’s harmful rays to enter.

Essential Equipment for Safe Solar Filming

Solar Filters

The cornerstone of safe solar filming is the solar filter. These filters are designed to fit over your camera lens and drastically reduce the amount of sunlight that enters the camera. Ensure that the filter is specifically rated for optical solar observation and photography. Common types include aluminized Mylar and black polymer filters.

Using the Right Camera Settings

Even with a solar filter, using the correct camera settings is vital to protect your equipment and capture clear footage. You’ll want to use a low ISO, a high f-stop (for a smaller aperture), and a fast shutter speed to reduce the amount of light hitting the sensor.

Viewfinders: Caution Required

If your camera has an optical viewfinder, avoid using it for direct solar observation. The concentrated sun rays can damage your eyes. Instead, use your camera’s LCD screen or an external monitor for framing your shots.

Filming Techniques for Captivating Solar Footage

Plan Your Shoot

Solar events like eclipses are predictable, allowing you to plan. Research the timing and path of the event in your location. Practice setting up your equipment and switching settings quickly. The most dramatic moments of an eclipse can pass in minutes, if not seconds.

Capturing the Details

Once equipped with a solar filter, you can capture the nuanced details of solar events: sunspots during regular sun filming, the diamond ring effect, Baily’s beads, and the stunning corona during an eclipse. These phenomena provide unique opportunities for captivating footage.

Time-Lapse for Dramatic Effect

Time-lapse photography is particularly effective for solar events. It allows viewers to experience the gradual transition during an eclipse or the sun’s motion across the sky. Ensure your camera is securely mounted on a tripod, and use an intervalometer to automate the shooting process.

Post-Filming: Enhancing Your Solar Footage

Post-production is your chance to adjust exposure, contrast, and color balance to bring out the best in your solar footage. Software like Adobe Premiere Pro or DaVinci Resolve offers powerful tools for refining your video.

The Importance of Preparation and Safety

Catching the sun in action can be one of the most rewarding activities for a videographer, but it requires respect for the power of our nearest star. By preparing properly with the right equipment and knowledge, you can safely capture stunning solar phenomena. Remember, no footage is worth compromising your safety or damaging your equipment. With these safe solar filming techniques, you’re ready to capture the sun’s grandeur without risk.

Embrace the challenge, plan your shoot, and let the sun be your muse, all while ensuring the safety of your vision and your equipment.


Solar photography and videography can be a beautiful and rewarding experience, but safety should always be the number one priority. Use proper sun-blocking devices and filters, as well as take precaution when capturing images. With the right preparation, you can capture stunning photographs and video of solar eclipses and other solar events safely and securely.

Filming the sun and its astronomical events can be a mesmerizing experience, allowing videographers to capture the raw beauty of our universe. However, the significance of undertaking this task with caution cannot be overstressed. By investing in proper solar filters, understanding the correct camera settings, and practicing safe viewing habits, filmmakers can protect themselves and their equipment from the sun’s potentially harmful effects.

Moreover, the use of time-lapse photography and thoughtful post-production techniques can transform raw footage into a breathtaking visual narrative that showcases the sun in all its glory. Through careful preparation and adherence to safety guidelines, videographers can push the boundaries of their craft, capturing extraordinary solar phenomena that continue to fascinate and inspire audiences around the world.

So, as you venture out to film the next solar eclipse, transit, or simply the sun on a clear day, remember that the key to success lies in preparation, safety, and creativity. With these tools in hand, there are truly no limits to what you can achieve behind the lens.