For a year prior to the August 21 2017 total solar eclipse, known among eclipse aficionados as the Great North American Solar Eclipse, I planned and prepared for my journey to capture this grand event. The entire process of scouting potential clear-sky viewing and shooting locations, to planning and practicing the logistics of the shoot was interesting, fun and filled with anticipation. I arrived a week prior to the eclipse to visit and choose from six potential viewing and shooting site I had previously found using Google Earth and clear sky databases. I settled on a near-mountain top openfield location that provided me with an open view of the sky dead-center on the path of maximum totality.
I made camp on my chosen site and practiced my camera set up and shooting, and then waited for the moon and sun to collide in the sky. The several evenings prior to eclipse were clear and cool and offered brilliant, glorious views of the star-filled night sky. My eclipse camera was a Canon SLR with an 800 mm prime lens set up on a tall and beefy video tripod that allowed me to shoot at a high angle from a standing position. On smaller tripods I set up my iPhone and iPad to capture Time lapse videos of the the Eclipse and the shooting process (you can view one of these time lapses below in this blog.) Being directly on the median of the path of totality afforded me a full two and one half minutes of total eclipse, with plenty of shooting time, during which I shot the image you see here. Totality was all it was advertised to be spooky, fascinating and otherworldly. The sky and landscape dimned, the temperature dropped and all was eerily silent. The entire process of planning and preparation as well as execution was engaging and fulfilling, and I'm already planning to shoot the next North American total eclipse in 2024 from the hills of South Central Texas.
Solar Eclipse Capture Time Lapse
Camera rig and capture during the 2017 Great North American Solar eclipse
This time lapse video shows both the photographic gear set up, the capture process, and the dimming of the light and the landscape during the eclipse. Because I was only interested in capturing images of the eclipse during totality, rather been utilizing a solar filter to protect my camera from the direct pre-total eclipse sunlight, I simply kept on the lens cover until the beginning of totality, at which time I removed the lens cover and began capturing images continuously for nearly the entire two minutes and 30 seconds of totality at this locality. In addition to being a very fun compressed capture of all the pre-shooting and shooting activity, as well as the gear takedown, this time lapse is a very fun way to repeatedly re-enjoy the eclipse.
As you can see I was on the edge of a gravel road in a remote wide-open, near-ridgeline, high mountain valley. I enjoyed the solitude of my remote eclipse-viewing perch, while other more gregarious folks enjoyed the community of some 100,000-strong solar eclipse party-goers that gathered in nearby Madras Oregon. There are many of ways to enjoy a total solar eclipse, and it's well worth the planning and effort to establish a location along the midline of totality. If you missed the 2017 Great North American Solar Eclipse, you have another chance in 2024, where you will again be able to choose between a variety of solar eclipse parties as well as more secluded locations, where you will likely again find me. Or perhaps, next time I will opt to join the party as well!
If you want to know more about 2024 North American total solar eclipse, here's a good place to start: <https://www.space.com/41552-total-solar-eclipse-2024-guide.html>