Safely Photographing the Sun

© Mike Spinak

I’m frequently asked how I avoid eye damage when including the sun in my pictures, such as the Morning, Tenaya Lake picture, shown previously, in Get Luckier: Strategy for Success, and the picture, above.

Simply put, my main technique is avoiding looking at the sun. I take pictures of the sun, without looking at the sun, in a few ways. One way is to predict where the sun is going to be, before it is there, and set up my composition when the sun is not in my picture, then wait for the sun to move into position. Another way to do it, when the circumstances don’t allow for the first way, is to stand back a little bit from my viewfinder, and look through the viewfinder obliquely from the side, so that part of my view (the part where the sun is) is blocked. I then compose my picture from the edges, without ever looking through the middle of the viewfinder, at the sun. Also, remember that digital photography allows you to use the rear LCD screen to compose pictures of the sun without looking at it.

Another technique is to photograph the sun on the very edge of the horizon, through a thick layer of atmosphere, partially obscured by fog, clouds, etc. The sun’s intensity can be considerably less under these circumstances. Nevertheless, I don’t recommend this technique. Better safe than sorry, with your eyesight.

A third possible technique is to buy and use special filters designed for safely looking at the sun. I have never done this, because it has not been necessary, and because I carry enough photo gear that I try to avoid carrying what I don’t need.

Be safe, and happy shooting.

Setting Sun

All pictures and text are © Mike Spinak, unless otherwise noted. All pictures shown are available for purchase as fine art prints, and are available for licensed stock use. Telephone: (831) 325-6917.