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How to photograph the solar eclipse like a pro

Aaron Aupperlee
| Thursday, Aug. 10, 2017, 3:57 p.m.

Pics or it didn't happen, right?

When millions of Americans look to the sky later this month — wearing the proper safety glasses — a bunch of them will probably have their phone or camera in hand to grab a picture of the once-in-a-lifetime solar eclipse.

But as anyone who has tried to snap a photo of the sunset will tell you, capturing spectacular celestial events with your camera or phone often yields less than stellar results.

The solar eclipse will occur Aug. 21. In Western Pennsylvania, we'll be treated to a nearly total eclipse while other places in the country will see a total eclipse.

Here a few tips on how to photograph the solar eclipse, whether for Instagram or your living room wall.

1) Safety first.

Wear solar-filtering glasses. On eclipse day, the cardboard specs that look like a cross between classic 3D glasses and something your optometrist gives you will be all the rage. Why? Because looking at the sun, even if most of it is covered by the moon, is dangerous. So when you're lining up your shot, make sure you have the proper glasses on.

2) Tips from a pro.

Chris Pietsch is the director of photography for the Register-Guard, the newspaper in Eugene, Ore., one of the places where the moon will completely block the sun. He has spent months preparing for the eclipse. He shares his tips in this how-to video. His advice: Come prepared or don't bother .

3) Smartphone success.

For those of you without a big camera, NASA put out some tips for how to capture a good shot with your smartphone . The space agency recommends covering your smartphone lens with glasses similar to the ones you'll be wearing, but others have disagreed .

Either way, set up your phone on a tripod and be ready to manually adjust the focus and the exposure during the eclipse. NASA recommends practicing by taking photos of the moon.

4) Take a time-lapse.

Take your smartphone camera game to the next level by using the time-lapse feature to capture the solar eclipse. Use a tripod, select the time-lapse setting on your phone's camera and start shooting well before — five minutes or so before — the eclipse starts, according to a how-to in USA Today . Plan to shoot about 20 minutes to create a two- to three-minute video.

If you have other eclipse photo tips to share, leave them in the comments below.

Aaron Aupperlee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at, 412-336-8448 or via Twitter @tinynotebook.

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