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Professional photographer tells how to get the perfect eclipse shots

"It's a very fleeting thing, so you have to be very organized and very deliberate about your photography," astrophotographer Johnny Horne said of shooting the eclipse. (Photo credit: WLOS staff)

The great American eclipse in just a few days will have amateurs and professionals angling for the best shots.

"It's a very fleeting thing, so you have to be very organized and very deliberate about your photography," astrophotographer Johnny Horne said.

Horne, who was in Asheville to teach others how to get the best eclipse pictures, has all the standard equipment, though he's gearing up for something that's the opposite of standard.

His first tip -- "protect your eyes and the camera."

You'll need a solar filter for the camera to take photos as the sun is being eclipsed.

When the moon completely blocks the sun, make sure to remove the filter so you can photograph the corona.

This will be Horne's fifth time shooting a total eclipse since 1970.

"They are really something to get excited about," he said. "Anyone that tells you that's not the case has never seen one."

Horne, who worked at the Fayeteville Observer for four decades, has traveled the world to see other eclipses, which is always daunting because it's small window of opportunity.

"It's such a fleeting thing. Depending on where you are, you only have at most 2-2 1/2 minutes to shoot the total eclipse sun," he said.

Horne's photographs have captured everything from the comet Hale-Bopp in the 1990s to the northern lights.

He said another key to shooting an eclipse is never use autofocus. With a solar filter, photographers can set their focus on the sun and get the sharpest shot possible.

But Horne said much of the job has nothing to do with the camera. It's a combination of planning and flexibility.

"What a lot of eclipse chasers will tell you, being mobile on the day of the eclipse is the key to seeing it. Because if it's cloudy here and it's clear a couple of hundred miles up the road, you still have time to get there and see the eclipse," he said.

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