How to Take a Photo of the Sun

By Ryn Gargulinski ; Updated September 15, 2017
Sunrises are good times to capture the sun.

One of the most magnificent views on earth is the majestic fireball in outer space, the sun. You can take a photo of the sun to preserve at least a fraction of its majesty. You don’t want to simply snap a photo head on gazing at the giant fireball for that will not work. Some simple techniques and planning ahead will help you take a photo of the sun that’s good enough for framing. Here’s how.

Pick a very acute angle. A head-on shot of the sun is not the best way to go about it. Stand to the side, or angle your camera acutely with the sun in the shot but not as the main focus. This will help diffuse the massive light that comes blaring from the sun that usually ruins any shot of the majestic fireball.

Get it coming or going. Sunrises or sunsets work especially well because the sun is on a lower plane and thus easier to photograph. If the sun appears as high as your head or lower, you can go ahead and try a head-on shot as it’s not high enough up in the sky to blast the camera lens full of light. If that doesn’t work, still pick an acute angle to snap up the sun’s rising or setting glory.

Filter the shot with leaves, branches or another object in the foreground so your camera has something to aim at. The sun will show up as a background light, still majestic, but without the head-on glare you’d get with no objects to diffuse the sun’s blaring nature.

Snap it over the ocean, mountains or around very tall trees. Like the leaves or branches, having a majestic background framing the sun will help the camera focus on other objects besides the great yellow ball of light.

Get the sun partially covered by clouds. Again, having another object or objects in the shot will help the camera focus. Even if the sun is nearly fully hidden by clouds, the rays that penetrate the atmosphere are going to make for a glorious photo, perhaps not unlike a glimpse of heaven.

Tip

Other fun sun shots include its reflection on a lake or ocean or with something like a blimp, hot air balloon or airplane flying across it. Remember to go at an angle! Digital point and shoots with auto focus are all you need to be successful with any of these techniques. Keep your flash setting on auto. Even though the camera will most likely not need to flash, you usually get a sharper shot on auto than you do with the flash turned off. Take several photos of the sunrise, sunset or other shots you’ve set up with the sun. Even the best photographers take many, many photos of one object so they have many to choose from. That’s what makes them the best. Digital cameras are the easiest for taking many shots because they can easily be deleted without being printed.

Warning

A good habit to follow is to never delete a photo from the camera without first looking at in on the computer screen. Shots that look crummy on the camera’s small viewer may look great when downloaded and shots that look grand on the viewer could actually be somewhat crummy.