Halo photography

Halo Photography: Capturing the Beauty of Atmospheric Optics

Halo photography allows us to capture the awe-inspiring beauty of atmospheric optics phenomena. From vibrant halos encircling the sun or moon to rare displays of iridescent colors, these optical phenomena are truly a sight to behold. While halos are unpredictable and can occur at any time, being prepared with the right camera and techniques can greatly enhance your chances of capturing these mesmerizing moments. In this article, we will delve into the world of halo photography, providing you with tips and insights to help you capture stunning images of these celestial wonders.

1. Always Have a Camera at Hand

To be ready to capture halo displays, it is essential to always have a camera close by. A lightweight digital or compact 35mm film camera is ideal for spontaneous moments when a halo suddenly appears in the sky. By keeping it simple and avoiding complicated controls or interchangeable lenses, you can quickly seize the opportunity to capture the best parts of a halo display without missing a moment.

2. Invest in Quality Equipment

While a compact camera is great for on-the-go photography, having a high-resolution digital camera with optical zoom or a single-lens reflex (SLR) film camera with interchangeable lenses can greatly enhance your ability to capture halo displays seen from home. Keeping a 24 or 28mm lens in place on your SLR camera allows for quick and easy capturing of halos without the need for lens changes.

3. Prioritize Safety

Photographing halos requires utmost care and safety precautions, especially when it comes to observing the sun. Never look directly at the sun through the viewfinder of an SLR camera, as this can cause severe damage to your eyes. Instead, shield the sun behind a pole or the edge of a building to ensure safer and better images.

4. Optimize Your Camera Settings

To achieve the best results when photographing halos, it is important to optimize your camera settings. Pre-lock the focus to infinity, as auto-focus cameras often struggle to focus on these ethereal phenomena. Additionally, adjust your exposure settings for solar halos, opting for shorter exposures and using slow, fine-grained, high-exposure latitude film (such as 100 ISO) for film cameras. Consider bracketing the exposure two stops either way to ensure you capture the halo's intricacies in different lighting conditions.

5. Capture Large Halo Displays

When faced with a halo display that is too large to fit within your camera's field of view, consider taking a series of overlapping images. This technique allows you to capture the entirety of the halo and later create a montage that accurately represents its grandeur. Using a 50mm lens for these overlapping images yields better results than wide-angle lenses.

6. Preserve Your Images

Preserving the quality of your halo images is crucial for long-term enjoyment. If using film cameras, it is advisable to have the negatives scanned onto a CD-ROM before they become susceptible to dust and scratches. For digital cameras, always archive the original image files before any further processing or enhancement. This preserves valuable EXIF data that includes information about exposure, lens focal length, and the time the image was taken. Making a TIFF copy of the original image file ensures better quality for future processing.

7. Avoid JPEG Compression

When working with digital images, it is important to avoid multiple JPEG compressions. This compression process can degrade image quality and introduce artifacts. By keeping the number of compressions to a minimum, you can maintain the integrity of your halo photographs.

8. Seek Expert Advice

For more comprehensive advice and insights into halo photography, consider seeking guidance from expert photographers who specialize in capturing these atmospheric wonders. Harald Edens and Mark Vornhusen are renowned halo photographers who can offer valuable tips and techniques to enhance your skills in this captivating field.

9. Embrace the Wonder of Halos

Halo photography allows us to capture the ephemeral beauty of atmospheric optics and share it with others. By always carrying a camera, simplifying your approach, and prioritizing safety, you can be ready to capture these awe-inspiring moments whenever they occur. So, remember to look up at the skies often, keep your camera close at hand, and embrace the wonder of halos.

10. Conclusion

In conclusion, halo photography provides us with a unique opportunity to document and appreciate the mesmerizing displays of atmospheric optics. By following the tips and techniques outlined in this article, you can increase your chances of capturing stunning images of halos. Whether using a compact camera for spontaneous moments or investing in high-quality equipment for more controlled settings, the key is to be prepared and ready to seize the moment when a halo graces the sky. So, keep your eyes on the heavens, have your camera at the ready, and let the beauty of halos inspire your photographic journey.

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. �Jeff 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!

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  • "Halo photography". Atmospheric Optics. Accessed on November 30, 2023. https://atoptics.co.uk/blog/halo-photography/.

  • "Halo photography". Atmospheric Optics, https://atoptics.co.uk/blog/halo-photography/. Accessed 30 November, 2023

  • Halo photography. Atmospheric Optics. Retrieved from https://atoptics.co.uk/blog/halo-photography/.