The Sun

Some days ahead of the spectacular Venus transit several weeks ago I read some articles about how to take photos of the sun. It is obviously true that on a bright day you will need a dark ND filter, because otherwise it is impossible and even dangerous to look directly into the sun. But there are situations, where you can take impressive photos without such a filter. During my recent vacation I had even two of them and I was amazed by the result.

The first situation was a foggy day. The weather was all gray and you could not determine any horizon. All around me was a gray mass. But sometimes the fog got a bit weaker and sun was shining through. Just a little bit. With your eye you could just see a white disc in the gray mass. I took my camera with my excellent EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 L lens and zoomed to full focal length of 400mm. Since the sun was still quite small I adjusted exposure metering to spot metering, so the camera calculates aperture and shutter speed to correctly expose the small sun. The camera was in P mode. When checking the photo in full resolution on my computer screen I was amazed. The sun was a clear round shape and you could even see all those sun spots. Due to the foggy condition there were nearly no colors in the photo, unfortunately, so the sun was a gray shape, instead of the expected yellow or orange disc. But because it was quite cold you have no heat haze in this situation and the edges are quite clear.
The photo was taken with a shutter speed of 1/4000 sec, an aperture value of f/29, which is quite high, and an ISO value of 200. I did not use a tripod here.

The second situation where I was able to take photos of the sun was a sunset. There where some weak and fog like clouds that evening and when the sun was moving behind them, it got more and more dark and red. At a point where it was not that bright anymore I again took my camera with the 100-400mm L lens and took photos. As described above I adjusted exposure metering to spot metering to get a nicely exposed sun. This time the colors were great. The sun was a deeply orange disc and due to the spot exposure the sky around was really dark. This gave a beautiful contrast. Unfortunately, there was a lot of heat haze that evening and the sun is not a clear round disc. But, on the other hand, this haze creates a fire like effect and the sun looks really like a burning ball.
The photo was taken with a shutter speed of 1/2000 sec, an aperture value of f/16 and an ISO value of 200. I again did not use a tripod.

Although my photos of the sun are not perfect, I'm more that satisfied with the result. I have never expected to see sun spots when taking photos with my 400mm lens. After shooting the moon in May I have now got photos of the sun, too. Simply great.