Introduction: In a dance of eternal love and cosmic wonder, seize the rare opportunity to blend the art of portrait photography with the spectacle of a solar eclipse. We will discuss key principles to craft unforgettable solar eclipse engagement and wedding portraits that immortalize your love story in this cosmic event. I would like these points to act as an introductory guide for photographers and couples research into the matter so I will keep the article away from getting too technical, but of course you are welcome to follow the rabbit's hole.
1. Prioritize Safety in Solar Eclipse Engagement Photography: When capturing the celestial marvel of a solar eclipse during your engagement or wedding session, safety must always come first. Protect your eyes and camera gear using certified solar viewing glasses and filters.
The October 14, 2023 eclipse will be annular and a filter will be needed for the entire duration of the eclipse for protection.
The April 8, 2024 will be a total eclipse and if you are in the right place there will be a period of time from seconds to minutes where it will be visible to the naked eye and no camera filter will be needed during what is called the period of totality.
2. Timing Your Solar Eclipse Engagement Session: Planning is vital to give your self the best opportunity of eclipse alignment. Research the solar eclipse date, time, and path to ensure your love story intertwines with this celestial phenomenon.
Here is a link to a website using google maps and an overlay of the eclipse path.
3. Weather prospect research: One of the toughest lessons learned when chasing and capturing these celestial events is that the weather is not always in your favor. I want to be realistic about the fact that rapid weather changes make it difficult to anticipate with certainty if the solar eclipse is visible from your chosen location. Some resources can help you narrow down a location that will give you better weather prospects. Here are some links to helpful website tools that aid in your decision.
4. Essential Gear for Eclipse Engagement Photography: Elevate your artistry by gathering the right tools for this unique shoot. Prepare a manual-capable camera, a sturdy tripod, and a lens that captures your desired vision
For landscape images that show the eclipsed sun while incorporating the landscape – ideally within the 16-24mm range.
You will need a 70-200mm focal range length for portraits that narrow down on your subject.
For dramatic portraits that isolate the solar disk and your subject, you must be in the 400-1200mm lens range.
The solar disk can be isolated with telescopic lenses or by adding a focal range extension like a teleconverter or a 1.5 or 2.5 times magnifier.
Remember solar viewing glasses and lens filters to capture the celestial splendor safely.
Here are some links to certified solar photography filters
5. Scouting the Perfect Solar Eclipse Engagement Location: Choose a location to enhance your love story under the celestial spectacle. Scout the area to envision how light and shadow will grace your portraits during this rare event. Suppose the time of the max eclipse will occur near the horizon, for example, at sunrise or sunset. In that case, you need to make sure you have a clear view towards the horizon and something in the landscape that acts as a platform for you to stand on and coincide with the sun's position.
If the max eclipse happens during mid-day, several ways exist to accommodate that condition. One of them is choosing a location with a mountainous landscape, as that will help achieve the difference in the position of your camera, and the subject must align with the sun. Alternatively, a tall building or tower could provide the right height, but remember that you will need a greater distance to photograph your subject in the solar disk at longer focal ranges.
Here is an article that helps with the technical aspects of focal lengths and distances to incorporate subjects inside the lunar disk that apply to solar eclipses.
6. Perfecting Camera Settings for Solar Eclipse Engagement Portraits: On the day of your celestial encounter, allocate ample time for setup and experimentation. Embrace manual mode and fine-tune these settings:
- ISO: Opt for low settings (around 100-200) for clarity, although depending on your camera capabilities, you may need to bump into 800-1600 ISO ranges.
- Aperture: Widening it (f/2.8 to f/5.6) will create a dreamy background, but if your aim is for the sharpest solar disk possible, then f5.6 to f9.0 may be a better option.
- Shutter Speed: Adjust as the eclipse unfolds, capturing sharpness amid changing light.
During the partial phases of the eclipse, keeping the solar filter on your lens will be necessary. The filter will obscure all of the landscape, leaving only the solar disk visible, and your subject will need to be inside the center of the disk to capture a silhouette.
During a total solar eclipse, the filters can come off. With the proper settings, you will achieve images incorporating the eclipsed sun, your subject, and the landscape, depending on your framing.
7. Composing Your Cosmic Love Story: Integrate the essence of your love story with the eclipse's enchantment. Experiment with angles that unite your subjects' intimacy with the eclipse.
8. Posing with Cosmic Grace: Guide your subjects through poses that narrate a unique love story. Encourage interactions with the eclipse, symbolizing the timeless nature of the couples bond.
9. Chronicles of Eclipse Phases: Capture every phase of the solar eclipse – the anticipation, the path to totality, the captivating moments of darkness, and the reemergence of the sun. Adjust settings as needed to chronicle the different phases of the event as light changes rather quickly in the principal stages.
10. Enhancing Your Solar Eclipse Engagement Portraits: Immerse yourself in the visual narrative after the session. If everything goes accordingly you will achieve some captivating moments that can be enhance through post-processing. Refine exposure, contrast, and colors to mirror the love and cosmic grandeur.
11. Sharing Your Celestial Tale: Your artistic endeavor deserves a global audience. Present your cosmic masterpiece to your loved ones, friends, and the photography community. These portraits, conceived at the intersection of love and celestial splendor, are destined to captivate all who behold them.
Conclusion: Engaging in solar eclipse engagement or wedding photography is an awe-inspiring dance – a fusion of eternal love and fleeting cosmic beauty. By following some of these principles and nurturing your creative vision, you'll produce artworks that mirror the profound beauty of love amidst the grandeur of the universe. Embark on this celestial journey, and watch your artistry ascend to the stars.