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Solar Eclipse – Prineville, Oregon

By Will Austin

Will Austin’s award-winning photography has taken him around the world. Although he regularly does editorial work, Will specializes in documenting cutting-edge architecture and industrial workplaces. He lives in the Seattle area with his wife and son, but hails from Colorado cowboy country.

September 13, 2017

It has been a while since I last blogged but I’m excited to tell the story of our solar eclipse experience!  We packed four adults and our dog into a Honda Fit and journeyed to the rural town of Prineville, Oregon for the chance to experience the total eclipse.  Heeding the dire warnings of gas and food shortages we filled our tank every chance we got and brought 4 days worth of planned meals in a big cooler.  As it turned out, we experienced no shortages of anything and there wasn’t even a single traffic backup along the way.

By now I’m sure you’ve heard many accounts of this eclipse, and millions of people saw it first hand.  It certainly was an amazing and epic experience that exceeded my expectations, but to me it was also a bit scary and surreal.  It wasn’t just that it got dark – it was the sudden darkness that took place at the start of totality that was such a shock, and it got much colder!  Seeing the sun as a little ring of light in the sky was beautiful and all around the horizon it looked like a sunset.

I brought my camera and a big lens but I didn’t make any serious plans for taking photos – I didn’t want it to distract from the experience, plus it was my son’s 16th birthday trip.  But once I saw the eclipse in the sky I had to shoot!  Luckily I was able to get a couple of stunning images.  I also filmed an impromptu video and we did a time-lapse of the darkness coming and going.

These first 3 images capture the beginning of the darkness.  In the first you can see the sky in the distance above the cars is still evenly lit.  The second photo shows the shadow of the moon falling on that area, my wife is pointing.  I think the shadow was moving at about 4000 MPH across the earth.  I adjusted the third photo to show the actual illumination at the time, about 2 minutes before totality.  The light was also a strange color, it seemed greenish.  Please scroll down to see the rest of the photos and story.

Here are my two best photos, the first is during totality showing the spectacular corona.  In this shot you can also see Mercury in the bottom left of the frame (white spec).  Mars was in the top right area but not visible here.  For the record – all of the following images were not retouched in any way, the colors are neutral as well.

I was able to also capture one good image during “third contact” as the sun peeked back out around the moon.  You can also see a solar prominence flaring up above where the sun is reappearing.

Here is the video of the mayhem during the eclipse.  I just filmed for a few seconds and then dropped the camera so I could take photos.  Notice right after I set the camera down you can see Mercury and a passenger jet up in the sky.  The jet looked awesome near the eclipse!

Eclipse-Film-082117-4338 from Will Austin Photography on Vimeo.


This is the time-lapse showing the light change over about an hour –

solar-eclipse-prineville-082117-4317-3 from Will Austin Photography on Vimeo.


And there is more!  Here is a shot of another eclipse in May of 2012.  I shot this inadvertently while working on a location shoot in Colorado.  I noticed the sky got dark very quickly and took this image.  You can just see the partially eclipsed sun through the clouds just before sunset.

Solar eclipse May 20th, 2012 from Ellicott, Colorado

My shot of the total lunar eclipse from September, 2015 with an airplane flying through the frame.

Lunar eclipse with airplane lights, September 2014 Bellevue, WA USA

The strange summer of 2017 continued with the Seattle area with most of the Pacific Northwest blanketed in forest fire smoke.  The news has been dominated by the devastating hurricanes in the southern US but much of the forested western part of the country is on fire as well.

One day it was so gloomy I was able to take a shot of the sun without a filter, you can even see the sun spots!  And another shot with a fir tree silhouette.

Sun photographed through forest fire smoke showing sun spots by Will Austin Photography

Sun and Douglas Fir tree photographed through forest fire smoke - Will Austin Photography

The moon was dark red even when full.  I stayed up late to get these shots but the moon eventually disappeared entirely.

Full moon through forest fire smoke photograph by Will Austin Photography

This one was taken at higher magnification with a Nikon 1 V1 and FT-1 adapter on a Nikkor 200-500mm lens.

Partial moon photograph by Will Austin Photography

Such a long post, thanks for reading!  I also suggest you read Annie Dillard’s 1982 essay on her eclipse experience.


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1 Comment

  1. Micky

    So cool! Enjoyed reading and seeing some incredible images!