How I made an eclipse hood - an essential piece of kit!

Before heading out to shoot the October 2023 annular eclipse, Stephen and I purchased new lens filters and practiced shooting the sun in our back yard. Those sessions taught us that shooting directly at the sun is:

A. Very stressful
B. Very dangerous and
C. Very stressful…perhaps I already mentioned that.

We knew we needed to use the live view screen on the back of the camera, and in order to see that clearly it needed a cover. I began searching for a hood: either something to cover the screen or one like that used by the photographer in our logo.

The TPE logo photographer

Generally either version tended to be expensive or really cumbersome.

The problem with screen covers is that you are facing the sun when trying to view the screen, so even if it is covered, your eyes are still receiving way too much light.

A solution presented itself: Stephen and I have done a lot of photography trips around the southwest USA over the years. Being quite sun-sensitive, we discovered personal sun umbrellas. They are made with lightweight fabric that blocks 99% of UVA and UVB rays and offers UPF 50 sun protection. Yes, we were those crazy people trekking through the desert with umbrellas.

We had a couple of broken ones, I removed the material and attached some elastic to hug the lens, allowing room to reach all of the camera controls. I then taped a half tube of cardboard to the center in order to make that rigid. The final touch was some Velcro along the underside.

The “contraptions” protected us from looking directly at the sun and provided a wonderful dark environment to view the screen. The fabric also keeps you remarkably cool. The result was a much more relaxed shooting experience.

Fully protected! @stephen in the Bisti Badlands

That’s another sun umbrella above the chair.

If you’re thinking of making one yourself here are some things to think about:

  1. The closure along the underside of the hood is vital as there is a surprising amount of bounce light from the ground.
  2. Wearing a ball cap or hat under the hood gave it something to rest on.
  3. The length of cardboard half tubing was determined by our individual eyesight needs. Stephen needs eyeglasses to focus on the screen, I don’t, so the length of cardboard on his hood was longer.
  4. Storage is simple: fold the hood to the dimensions of the cardboard half tube, then wrap around your tripod.

The elastic helps the hood fit around the lens

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Definitely essential in sunny New Mexico - I was very grateful for it. Let’s hope it’s just as sunny on April 8th!

What are you all using for this purpose, if anything?

Thanks for this great idea and solution Alison!

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Not crazy - that was the original aim/meaning of “umbrella” - “little shade”'! Those further from the equator, having too much rain rather than too much sun, found the same invention more useful as a parapluie or a Regenschirm. Wonder why the English language just adopted “umbrella” rather than generating a more accurate term such as “rain shield”?


Umbrella is such a great word!