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Google shares Pixel Camera tips for the total solar eclipse

1 month ago 50

Google is getting in on the total solar eclipse excitement ahead of April 8 with some Pixel Camera tips.

…for people in the 115-mile wide path of totality, there will be a handful of minutes when darkness creeps across the horizon, dimming what might otherwise be a bright, sunny afternoon as the moon entirely blocks out the sun.


According to NASA, it will first be visible on Mexico’s Pacific coast at around 11:07 a.m. PDT before “entering the United States in Texas, and traveling through Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine.” It will then continue through Canada. The space agency has this useful table:

Update: Google does advise that you use “solar filters so you can look at and take photos of the sun before totality.”

Be sure to read NASA’s safety guide on viewing the total solar eclipse.

The most interesting tip from a product manager on the Pixel Camera team is not using astrophotography for the total solar eclipse:

  • “…advises against using [astrophotography] for the total eclipse, as sometimes exposure can take up to 4 minutes — totality is predicted to be around or less than 4 minutes total, depending on location, and you don’t want to spend it all on one photo.”
  • “During the eclipse, the sky will gradually get darker as the moon slowly passes between us and the sun — and the Pixel phone has automatic settings that can handle this. The screen auto-adjusts brightness depending on the lighting conditions, and Night Sight will automatically kick in if the light reaches a certain level.” In terms of what to visually expect:

When focusing, Google reminds users that “photographing the sun can be tough for any camera.” 

Try tapping where different elements meet within the frame, like where the sky meets the sun’s edge, to get the best focus. Once you have it, feel free to tap and hold the screen to lock focus. And if tapping’s just not working, you can adjust the slider in Pro Controls for a totally manual option.

Having a tripod is also a good idea, though alternatives are setting a 3 or 10-second timer and using the Pixel Watch’s Camera remote — which now lets you switch modes, including Night Sight — to keep the phone steady. Other tips include enabling the 3×3 photo grid in settings and “placing the eclipse in a spot where the lines intersect,” as well as getting familiar with the Camera, especially Pro Controls, before the big moment on Monday. 

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