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Sunsets & Eyesight Safety


Tallmanirl 9 355 Ireland
7 Jun 2021 2:07PM
Hi guys!
Iíve often read the advice never to look directly through the viewfinder through the sun. Does this mean zoomed in views of the sun, or even when itís a small ball? What are the safety procedures here? I have no live view in my camera.
7 Jun 2021 4:34PM
The sun's light is intense and it can damage the optic nerve if you even look at the sun with the naked eye - hence when there is an eclipse folk buy special lenses to look through - not for their cameras but for their eyes. The camera's lenses enhance this effect, as do binoculars, telescopes and magnifying glasses so that photos of the sun are usually taken by throwing an image of the sun onto a screen through a special lens and it is photographed that way. Try holding a magnifying glass over a piece of paper reflecting the sun's image and you will see how it burns a hole in the paper and eventually sets it alight. This will happen to your eye if you look through a lens at the sun, but it would also damage your eye if you look at it with the naked eye. Taking a photo of a rising or setting sun is usually not directed at the sun - it is directed at the whole scene, this diffuses the rays and is usually perfectly safe. So safety procedures are - you need special equipment to take photographs of the sun - the sun may look like a small ball but it is still the same distance away from the earth. When it looks larger in the morning or in the evening it is somewhat an optical illusion caused by the diffraction of light coming through the earth's atmosphere.
Tallmanirl 9 355 Ireland
7 Jun 2021 4:50PM
Thanks again Tianshi,
Mine would be the taking photos of the whole scene variety, but do you have links to any examples where the equipment might be required?
7 Jun 2021 6:32PM
It is a very specialised area and done by professionals rather than amateurs. If you ever watch 'The Sky at Night' then there is a telescope user and photographer who takes photos of the sun on occasion using a telescope. He photographs the tiny speck of Mercury crossing the sun's face - still many millions of miles away but the comparative sizes of the two objects reduce Mercury to a speck. Nasa have photographs of the sun on their website and there are photographs of the sun by ordinary photographers but they are as I said earlier - just caught in the general scheme of things. There is an article written by the guy who photographs stuff for The Sky at Night - https://www.skyatnightmagazine.com/astrophotography/astrophoto-tips/how-to-safely-photograph-the-sun/ - it may answer more of your questions.
Tallmanirl 9 355 Ireland
7 Jun 2021 7:18PM
Thanks again Tianshi!
I suppose I was really just trying to make sure I wasnít doing anything dangerous or not following appropriate safety guidelines etc.😀
altitude50 18 23.5k United Kingdom
7 Jun 2021 7:24PM
A few years ago I had a Russian reflecting telescope, I used do some very casual astronomy, looking at the Moon and the more prominent stars I never used it for photography. It came with a special dark glass eyepiece for observing the Sun, I was never very comfortable with using it. The whole eyepiece and metal mount became incredibly hot after a few seconds. I was concerned that it would shatter. Only used it once.
More recently, in January 2017 I took a photo of the Sun's disc through some very thick cloud with a normal short zoom lens. Enlarged you can see three sunspots which can be verified with the charts published that week. (Not dust on the sensor - as a friend suggested!)

Do not ever look direct at the sun even when it is low in the sky unless you have the appropriate eye protection.
Tallmanirl 9 355 Ireland
7 Jun 2021 7:43PM
Thanks Altitude!

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