Eclipse Alien Scape
When preparing to shoot the 2017 total solar eclipse, the primary challenge was to conceptualize images that would stand apart from what would surely be a myriad of indistinguishable pictures, all born from one of the most heavily photographed events of the decade. In collaboration with Sapna Reddy, a photo buddy from San Francisco, we set out to capture this exciting spectacle from a unique location—something off the grid, away from crowds and traffic, and with room to get creative.
After extensive scouting, I discovered just such a place in the Boulder Mountains near Sun Valley, Idaho. At well above 9,500 feet, the location had nearly two minutes of totality, guaranteed isolation, and a small pond that angled directly toward the coming celestial show. The pond was unlike anything I’ve seen in high-altitude lakes; growing inside the multi-colored water were bizarre algae pillars (which we named “water tufas”) that climbed vertically from the sandy bottom and ballooned across the water’s surface. It was a truly alien landscape, and a perfect complement to such an otherworldly phenomenon as a solar eclipse.
On August 21st, we donned our headlamps and heavy packs and set out hiking before sunrise. The experience did not disappoint, and the eclipse exceeded all expectations.
In order to create a visual story that not only captured the critical phases of the event (such as totality or the diamond ring), but also provided a sense of place and insight into the drama of the experience, we knew that we would likely be creating composite images. I had three cameras running: one with a telephoto lens for eclipse close-ups, one wide-angle lens to capture the unique landscape, and a third hand-held camera to attempt a unique perspective through a “LensBall” (i.e. a small, perfectly round glass sphere that renders the outside world upside down).
When I finally found time to edit these images, I gave up on this one at least twice. I was determined to make it look like it had felt; but as those who saw it know, it is just plain hard for a photo to do the experience justice. I eventually came back to it, and here is my artistic take on the event. Hope you enjoy!
Total EclipseAugust 21 20172017 Solar EclipseBackcountryBlaine CountyBoulder MountainsBouldersEclipseGreat American EclipseIdahoKetchumSilver LakeSolar EclipseSummerSunSun ValleyWide AngleWood River ValleyWater TufasDiamond RingReflection
From 2017 Total Eclipse