Photographer and Friends Find Magic and an Eerie Light During Solar Eclipse

The tent flaps are pushed aside and a cold breeze greets my nose, I know that today is the day. With excitement in the air, I quietly rouse my camp, making sure to tread lightly, as it is only 5:30 in the morning. As our stoves are fired up and water is boiled, I make sure all my camera gear is ready.

During the hype of the 2017 solar eclipse, it seemed that the entire West Coast was planning a trip to view this solar phenomenon. But for four friends, it was about finding solitude in the backcountry to witness a truly magical event.

To do so, the five of us embarked on a five-day journey — a 335-mile drive from Bellingham, then a 12-mile hike into Oregon’s Bull of the Woods Wilderness, where we spent four nights camping out.

As I sat at 4,700 feet above sea level with my hiking buddies, I had to quickly find the perfect location for my tripod and camera. This may sound easy, but it wasn’t, because our photo site was on the side of a burned-out hill with downed trees littering the ground. Despite these hindrances, my camera was ready, with my custom Solar Film filter affixed to the front just as the moon touched the sun’s left-most outer ring.

The filter was key: By letting through only 1/1,000th of the sun’s energy, this film allowed me to stare directly at the sun through my camera, while not searing my eyes or destroying my camera’s sensor.

This film allowed me to take 1,500 photographs (one photo every eight seconds) of the entire event, letting me build a time-lapse video of the entire eclipse. From those 1,500 photos, 19 were selected for use in the photo collage you see above. Even though the totality of the eclipse lasted just two minutes, it was spectacular to watch as the moon steadily marched across the sun, giving our surroundings an eerie, pre-dawn glow and making the temperature drop quickly.

As soon as the sun was fully eclipsed by the moon, I stood in awe. Pulling my eye away from my viewfinder was like stepping into a world I’d never seen. The valley below us was dark, while the trees around us were draped in a light glow. Overhead, the eclipse looked as though it was just a jewel, suspended in the sky. Those two minutes will be burned into my mind forever. No words were spoken between myself or my friends. All we could do was sit and witness the magic.

Bull of the Woods Wilderness
Mill City, Oregon
"The valley below us was dark, while the trees around us were draped in a light glow."