There’s a solar eclipse coming up tomorrow night. But don’t think you can just grab your camera before the event and go: getting usable sun photos requires preparation, and most importantly a solar filter. Direct sunlight is way too bright for cameras to cope with – they simply can’t stop down far enough, nor shoot fast enough, to keep from blowing out the image and producing a huge featureless white blob.

A solar filter sits between your lens and the sun, and it knocks down the light to 1/10000 or so of its original amount – something a camera can then deal with.  If you’ve planned ahead far enough you may already have a solar filter. If not, you can improvise something like this one for $3.

Regardless of whether or not there's an eclipse going on, this would be a great easy project for educators.  Ask the kids to bring in their own cups.  One Mylar emergency blanket is enough to do tons of these little filters.  Teach kids the safe way to observe the Sun - never look directly at it, but reflections, cameras, etc. are fine.


I can’t stress the previous lines enough.  This design is safe for cameras, not for eyes, because it blocks visible light.  That leaves the harmful UV and infra-red rays unblocked – things your camera is not sensitive to, but your retinas are!  If you want a visual (observing) filter, buy one.  No DIY solution can be tested / guaranteed as a commercial one can.

Step 1: Materials

Parts list:

* Empty plastic food container (with lid), larger than lens

* Mylar sheet.  Buy an “emergency blanket” from the camping supplies section at Wal-Mart.  Total cost: $2.97

* Razor blade

* Black spray-paint
And here's a photo shot in Tabriz, Iran... I just found this instructable... <br>I used a simple Sony 5MP camera, ISO100, exposure -2 and a home made filter...
Here's a pic taken in Darwin, Australia 9am
Do you think this would work over the aperture of a 5&quot; reflector?
Here was the best I could do of the Venus transit. This is using the filter on my video camera, zoomed in 40x : )
Thank you Thank you Thank you - this totally worked. Having only found out about this event last weekend I left myself no time to purchase any regular solar filter for my camera. I used a Canon 550D 250mm lense, 2 sheets, f14, ISO100, 1/3200 exposure - edited the pic with a sepia tone. - a big thank you again for this brilliant idea :D

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