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   Halo photography 

Disposable camera image
  Circumscribed and 22° halos taken with a 
disposable camera by Jeff Griffith in Garrett
County, Maryland.   Expensive equipment is 
not essential for good halo records. ŠJeff Griffith


Halos are unpredictable, a once in a lifetime display might occur at any time.   Look up at the skies often. Be ready. Have a lightweight digital or compact 35mm film camera always close to hand.

Keep it simple. Complicated controls and interchangeable lenses often mean that the best parts of a halo display are missed while the camera is being readied. Make sure the camera always has batteries and film/memory. When that rare halo display appears there will be no time to change them.

As well as an 'always with you' compact camera, a high resolution digital camera with optical zoom or a single lens reflex film camera with good interchangeable lenses is very desirable for displays seen from home. Keep a 24 or 28 mm lens in place on the SLR - quite often there is just not time to change lenses.

Never look at the sun through the viewfinder of an SLR and take extreme care with any camera. Safer and better images are made with the sun shielded behind a pole or the edge of a building.

If the display is too large for the field of view, take a series of overlapping images. Images from a 50 mm lens will overlay better in a montage than those from wide angle lenses. When a zoom lens is used, stick to just one or at most two zoom settings. Photographs at a variety of unspecified magnifications are difficult to overlay or compare.

Pre-lock the focus to infinity ~ auto focus cameras have difficulty focusing on halos. Exposures for solar halos will be short and film cameras can use slow, 100 ISO, fine grained, high exposure latitude film. Bracket the exposure two stops either way. Try to shield the sun and the nearby very bright sky.

Labs with automatic printers often make a poor job of halo images.   For valuable images, get the negatives scanned onto CDROM before they are covered with dust and scratches.   

Digital cameras  give much better personal control over image processing.   Always archive the original digital image files before any further processing or enhancement. The original image also contains valuable EXIF data on the exposure, lens focal length and the time the image was taken. Make a TIFF copy and use that for further processing. Avoid multiple JPEG compression because this degrades images and introduces artefacts. Keep the camera clock time accurate!

For more comprehensive advice try two expert halo photographers, Harald Edens and Mark Vornhusen.

In summary...    Always carry a camera. Keep things simple. Take care of your eyes. Look up often and have success photographing halos!