Solar Eclipse 1999 [Photo by Luc Viatour]
Most of us are taking pictures with our smartphones and have ditched actual cameras. And if that's you, some good news. You should be able to take a picture of August 21's total solar eclipse without using any sort of filter.
Some people have been suggesting that you tape a solar filter over your camera lens, but Apple tells USA Today that it's not necessary. Generally, smartphones have a wide angle lens. For the iPhone, it's 28mm, and the sun is not going to be taking up the whole photo anyway. With that in mind, Apple actually suggests you shoot wide shots of the eclipse. Try to get the atmosphere "and the amazing shadows that are naturally cast.
GoPro users also have a wide angle lens, even wider than the iPhone, so a lot of the same advice applies. And again, no filter necessary.
Bottom Line: A standard wide angle lens can handle the intense light from a solar eclipse. It's your eyes that you have to worry about; make sure they're protected. And if you have a bigger, better camera and powerful zoom lens, Apple warns that you could "run into trouble" and should check out solar filters.
This will be the first total solar eclipse visible from coast to coast since 1918. So yeah, it's a big deal and certain to be the biggest photography event of the year. We'll see a partial eclipse in our area, but totality will be up towards Nashville.
If you're planning to take video or time lapse, check out this article for a few additional tips.
[Created w/Eclipse 2017 Android App, Geodata from OpenStreetMap Zoom 4 via Wikimedia Commons]