When a solar eclipse darkens the skies across the U.S. Monday, many people will be looking up — and taking photos.

But, if you want to take amazing — even great — photos of the eclipse, there are several things you need to know before you start snapping away.

1) You’ll need a few things if you are using a DSLR camera

If you will be using a DSLR camera to take photos of the eclipse, you will need a tripod, a big lens and a solar filter.

The big lens should be 800 mm, or bigger, so you can zoom in on the sun as the moon casts its shadow.

Just like your eyes, pointing a camera directly at the sun can damage it. A solar filter, fitted on the front of your lens, will protect the camera and help you set the proper exposure to take a good photo.

2) Phone photos of the eclipse won’t work well

If you will be using your phone to take photos of the eclipse, you will need a solar filter also. Pointing your phone directly at the sun could damage the lens, just like if you stare at the sun without protection.

You can buy a solar filter to fit over your phone’s camera lens or you can use your eclipse glasses and hold them up against your phone’s lens.

However, your phone is not designed to capture celestial objects or events. If you are banking on your phone to get direct photos of the eclipse, they won’t turn out spectacular.

3) Looking down may be your ticket to winning social

During the eclipse, your best photos may be with you pointing your phone down in the shadow of a tree.

The gaps in the tree leaves act like a pinhole camera and focus the light of the eclipse on the ground.

As the moon moves across the sun, the shadows on the ground change.

So Monday, get creative and capture the eclipse on the sidewalk, wall, paper, on the side of a building, etc.

We want to see your photos Monday! Email web@kcra.com or tag @kcranews on Instagram and Twitter. You can also post photos on the KCRA 3 Facebook page.

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