LOS ANGELES — If, like many, you plan to capture the Aug. 21 Total Eclipse with your smartphone or GoPro camera, you don't need to worry about taping a solar filter over the lens.
Experts advise wearing special solar glasses next week, when the sun won't be blocked by the moon, because of the extreme harshness of the light. The first Total Eclipse visible coast to coast since 1918 is expected to be the biggest photo event of the year.
Others have warned photographers attempting to take images of the eclipse to buy special solar filters for cameras.
But most GoPro and smartphone shots will be wide angle, showing the scene, and the light changes, where the sun itself will comprise just a fraction of the image.
"You can point your iPhone at the sun right now to take photos and the camera’s sensor and lens would not be damaged. The same is the case for the solar eclipse," Apple said in a statement to USA TODAY.
Photographers using larger cameras such as Canon or Nikon DSLR and a large zoom would "run into trouble," says Apple, because of the huge multiplication factor hitting the big lens.
Many photographers will be using huge zooms to capture the moment when the sun slips behind the moon briefly, causing the day to become night briefly, and then back to daylight again.
Large focal lengths, like 400-800mm, are recommended for NASA like shots.
But the iPhone camera (and that of similar smartphones like the Samsung Galaxy) is a 28mm wide angle, and the lens on the GoPro is even wider, around 14mm. So the sun itself will be a very minor character in your photos.
Since the wide shots won't show us much of the sun, Apple and others suggest shooting wide shots of the scene, capturing "not only the eclipse but also the atmosphere...and the amazing shadows that are naturally cast."
For wide shots, you might consider something more dramatic than stills — a time-lapse or video shot. Leave the closeups to NASA.
Some other tips:
► Video. Let the camera roll with video resolution as high as possible, and watch day become night and go back to the day.
► Time-lapse. Time-lapses generally shoot one still frame every 1, 2 or 5 seconds and then get stitched together in movie form for the effect.
Because of the missing frames during a key event, Tyler Johnson, a production expert at GoPro, suggests switching to standard video mode and letting it roll the entire time. But if you happen to have two GoPros, shoot time lapse on one and video on the other.
A two-minute clip in time-lapse, when sped up, will be about 10 to 20 seconds. So let the camera run for a good 10 minutes before totality and 10 minutes after.
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