How to Take the Perfect Solar Eclipse Selfie

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If you’re planning on snapping selfies during the total solar eclipse on April 8, you’re going to want to dress for success.

As the eclipse approaches totality and the sky grows darker, the way our eyes perceive light changes, and colors become more muted.

This is most noticeable four to five minutes before totality, when the eclipse enters the mesopic vision zone — when it’s just dark enough that everything appears grayish and silvery.

That can lead to some seriously dull selfies.

That’s why experts at Solar Eyeglasses, a solar eclipse glasses company, are encouraging eclipse watchers to avoid wearing neutrals, and sport red and green clothes instead.

It’s important to note that taking a selfie during the solar eclipse can be dangerous. Even though you’re facing away from the sun, harmful UV rays can bounce off your phone screen and into your eyes.

But you can do it safely — just make sure you’re wearing your solar eclipse glasses to protect your eyes from damage, and that your phone camera is protected with a solar filter.

Or if you want a shot without eclipse glasses, you can safely take them off during totality, when the sun is fully eclipsed. But totality only lasts about a couple of minutes so be ready and be quick.

Why wear green and red during the total eclipse

A vertical collage of three photos of the same red geranium photographed in different levels of light to demonstrate the The Purkinje effect, with the brightest light in the top image and the lowest light in the bottom image.

As ambient light dims, the Purjinke effect makes reds appear dark and muted, as you can see by the changing color of this red geranium. But notice how the green leaves in the background remain vibrant.

Klbrain / Wikimedia Commons

Green pops the most in the dim light of a total eclipse. But if you contrast that green with red, it’ll be even more striking, a spokesperson for Solar Eyeglasses told BI over e-mail.

During an eclipse, the transition from daylight to darkness is gradual enough that we enter an in-between phase where the cones in our eyes — that help us see vibrant colors in daylight — and the rods — that help us distinguish blues and greens in dim light — work at the same time.

This triggers a shift in our perception of color. The phenomenon is called the Purkinje effect.

It makes everything appear gray and silvery, as if you’re looking at the world through gray-tinted glasses, said Gordon Telepun, creator of the app Solar Eclipse Timer, in a video.

A solar eclipsed photographed almost at totality

Mesopic vision kicks in the the last 4-5 minutes before a solar eclipse reaches totality, making red objects appear dark and muted while green objects stand out.

Matt Anderson Photography / Getty Images

For example, reds appear muted. But because your rod cells are working overtime during the dim, mesopic vision zone, green is most likely to stand out.

Wearing a red and green outfit may create a striking visual contrast in your selfies. In the few minutes before totality, your red clothes will appear darker — almost black — but your green clothes will still look green. Against each other, your green clothes are sure to pop.

Other selfie-taking tips

There are a few other important things to remember when taking a selfie during the eclipse.

If you’re using your smartphone, be aware that the eclipsed sun will appear quite small in the photo.

For a closer image, use a digital camera or DSLR instead. Just make sure to protect your camera lens with a solar filter.

And remember the tenets of great selfie-taking: use a selfie stick or tripod, switch to portrait mode or enable live photo mode, and if you have an Apple watch and iPhone use the Bluetooth connection to create a remote shutter so you avoid having to run in and out of the shot with a timer.

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