For those preparing to photograph a total solar eclipse, Fred Espenak shares his eclipse photography checklist.

Diamond Ring
Rick Fienberg / TravelQuest International / Wilderness Travel

Photographing a total solar eclipse can take a lot of preparation, and a checklist can help photographers make sure they have everything in order in the days or even weeks before the eclipse. That way, you’ll avoid many potential problems on the big day itself.

Photography Preparation Checklist (weeks before eclipse)

Set up all your equipment for testing

  • Make checklist of all necessary equipment
    (camera, lens, solar filter, tripod, batteries, memory cards, cables, adapters, chargers, etc.)
  • Include any tools you will need
  • For video camera or computer, how long do batteries last?
  • If planning bursts with a DSLR, how may shots before buffer is full?

For maximum stability, set tripod as low as practical

  • Do not extend center column
  • Hang weight (water bottle, bag of rocks, etc.) from center of tripod or tape to legs

Practice aiming, framing and tracking the Sun with your camera

  • If using equatorial mount, learn how to polar align in daytime
    (use compass for NORTH & angle finder for LATITUDE)
  • If NOT using equatorial mount, practice tracking Sun
    (how long does it take the Sun to drift out of your field of view?)
  • Note: Sun moves across the sky at the rate of 1 diameter every 2 minutes

Make sure you can remove the solar filter quickly without moving Sun out of field

  • Solar filter must be secure enough that wind won’t blow it off
  • Practice removing filter smoothly

Prepare brief Eclipse Day notes

  • Use clipboard or index cards
  • List eclipse contact times for quick reference
  • Eclipse Day checklist
  • Any other notes you need at your fingertips

Carefully pack up all your equipment

  • Set up all your equipment one last time
  • How long does it take to set up?
  • Consult checklist to make sure you have everything
  • Use poly tarp to lay out equipment before packing for eclipse
  • Don’t remove anything once you’ve packed

This article originally appeared on Fred Espenak's website, where he also has a comprehensive eclipse day checklist. For more on eclipse photography, see Mr. Eclipse’s “How to Photograph a Solar Eclipse” and the Nikons Guide to Eclipse Photography.

For more eclipse resources, visit our Total Solar Eclipse 2024 landing page.


Image of Boom2DaStars


August 9, 2017 at 6:05 pm

I'm finding that the hard part is finding a place to stay where they don't want a ransom.

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Image of Tom-Fleming


August 12, 2017 at 11:50 am

Low tripod height and DSLR with long telephoto........... Finding the sun and keeping it in the field. My system (7D with 400mm L lens) requires laying on the ground and manipulating the tripod axes (3). At age 70 this is a CHALLENGE 🙂 I have opted for the live view mode and the use of a hand held mirror to assist in the pointing process.

You must be logged in to post a comment.

You must be logged in to post a comment.