There is a vast variety of halos possible in the sky, some of which are very common,
others exceedingly rare. Halo photography differs in difficulty depending on
which of those halos you want to photograph. The most difficult thing is to make
sure you are in the right place at the right time, with your camera ready, when
a rare halo occurs.
Lunar halos are nice to photograph, because the time exposure will blur cloud details
and make the halos look much better.
I recommend using an SLR camera, so you have good control over your exposures,
and can use a wide variety of lenses. For halo photography I use lenses ranging from
fisheye to beyond 200mm. The average gear to do halo photography includes:
- SLR camera
- fisheye lens
- 20mm lens
- 28mm lens
- 28-80 zoomlens
- 80-200 zoomlens
- cable release
- exposure meter
It is recommended that you block the sun by an object, to avoid lens flares.
The exposure meter will be built into your camera; however, for true fisheye
exposures, the light meter in the camera might not be visible, since the fisheye
will project the image on a circle at the center of your frame. So, a separate
light meter is very useful when you plan on using fisheye lenses.
The cable release and tripod are useful for photographing halos at night. The
full or gibbous moon is equally capable of producing halos as the sun is, and
halos at night can be very beautiful because the stars may be visible in the
When doing halo photography, always make sure the light source (sun or moon) is
blocked or outside view. Otherwise, there will be lens flare and loss of contrast.
You do not really need to block the sun if the halo-producing cloud is so thick
that the sun is diffused.
In particular, keep an eye at the sky away from the sun: several very rare halos are possible in
that part of the sky, such as the Wegener anthelic arcs.
Never light-meter with the sun in view, or your photos will be underexposed
several stops. This is the same reason that many people complain about sunsets
being underexposed: the photos look too dark. Always light-meter with the sun
blocked; preferably don't move away from the halo to light meter at a different
part of the sky, in order to light meter away from the sun, as that part of sky
may give you the wrong exposure also.
The blue sky, and all the halos, are polarized to some degree; you can exploit
this polarization to make your photos have higher contrast, by using a polarizer
filter. The polarizer filter will (if rotated properly) increase the brightness
of some polarized halos, while decreasing the brightness of the surrounding