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How to capture the perfect photo of the total solar eclipse

The solar eclipse is set to provide a rare look at the sun -- a view not seen in decades. One photographer has tips on what you can do to capture that perfect shot Aug. 21.

The Great American Solar Eclipse is less than a month away, and some say they've been anticipating it for decades.

"I won't say it's a once-in-a-lifetime experience, but my parents tell me that I saw a total eclipse when I was about two or something like that. I'll take their word for it," said Louis Keiner, a physics and oceanography professor at Coastal Carolina University.

When he's not working at the university, he says he's out taking photos. His office is filled with breathtaking shots of nature from around the world, including places like Scotland.

Like many photographers, Keiner has been gearing up for the historical solar eclipse.

"I'll be using this fella right here," he said, pointing to a DSLR camera with an extended lens.

But, he says you really can use any camera--from an iPhone to a point-and-shoot--to capture the natural event.

"It's a type of photography that you have to prepare for, but once it's here, if you're prepared for it, then you can get some really awesome photos from it," he said.

First, he says you have to make sure you use the zoom function on your camera.

"You think about the sun being very large, but really, when you look at it, it takes up a very, very, very tiny part of the sky and, so, you're going to want to zoom in as much as you can."

Second, you'll need to wear eclipse glasses and put a solar lens cap on your camera to catch that perfect shot.

"They block not only the visible light, but they also block the ultraviolet light and infrared light."

A solar filter will block all but a thousandth of a percent of the incoming light, he said. All of these steps help to create a clearer photo.

"The sun is still going to be so bright it's going to overwhelm your camera sensor and you might end up frying your camera's sensor," he said.

He also recommends that you keep your camera on a tripod.

"The sun is very far away so any type of jolt or any type of vibration in the camera, especially being handheld, might make the shot a bit blurry," he said.

As for settings, Keiner says to stay away from automatic. He said intense light from the eclipse will distort those settings.

To be sure you get that perfect shot on the day-of, Keiner says to make sure you practice.

"Practice the focus, practice getting the exposure right and get it right so you're comfortable with it before the day of the eclipse," said Keiner.

To learn more about the solar eclipse, click here.

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