Film, Kodak Portra, Large Format, Leica, Wista 8x10

Chasing An Eclipse

On August 21st, 2017, North America went crazy trying to watch a total solar eclipse. I admit I got caught up in it too.

My fellow photographer friend, John, and I got this brilliant idea we’d head up to Wyoming to try and watch it ourselves. John wanted to take photos, but I was more interested in seeing it happen. Naturally we decided this only a few months before the eclipse so finding lodging was a nightmare! Eventually we found a place near the Montana border and set about making our plans.

I’ve never been to Yellowstone or Grand Tetons before and thought since we would be only a couple hours away, we should try to see some of them. I knew we couldn’t do it proper but at lease I could say I’d been and grab a few photos. I really wanted to visit Snake River Overlook and get my own version of Ansel Adam’s The Tetons and the Snake River. It’s one of his most well known images and it’s gorgeous! I did some research and knew that his view didn’t exist exactly anymore due to 50+ years of tree growth but I wanted one still. Since we were driving, I decided to pack my 8×10 camera. In addition to that, I wanted to take my Leica to document the trip.

As it turns out, we spent a lot of time driving back and forth visiting Yellowstone. We took photos at Old Faithful, Grand Prismatic Spring, and several other locations. We didn’t see the entire park, but it was a good first trip for me anyway. I’m disappointed I brought the 8×10 though. It ended up being to heavy for me to carry around to the different spots so it largely sat in the car seeing no use. A 4×5 would have been much more manageable. Something to think about for future trips!

In between trips to Yellowstone, we scouted out a few places we hoped we could view the eclipse from. As it turned out the amount of people in the area was just stupid. Everywhere you went people were camped out and ready. We found a little town called Shoshoni that was in the path of totality and decided that was our goal. On the morning of the eclipse, we got up about 3 am and drove the two and a half hours to Shoshoni and found a nice area with only a couple cars parked. We set out some chairs to stake our spot and went back to sleep in the car a while longer. There were well over 100 cars in the area by the time the eclipse was happening.

The eclipse itself was amazing. John got his cameras and lenses all set up and blazed away taking what seemed like 200,000 photos in a couple minutes. I set up my 8×10 and took one photo of the people staring in the sky. I spent the time watching with my eyes and really enjoyed myself. I can’t describe it other than to say I now understand why people chase these things all over the world. It was amazing!

When our trip was over and we were heading home, we stopped at Snake River Overlook to get our Ansel Adams shots. I set up my 8×10, took a couple sheets, and spent the rest of the time letting tourists look under my dark cloth to see what Ansel Adams saw with his view camera. I don’t mind letting people see. They’re always so fascinated that someone would actually be shooting film.

Now I’ve got to process the sheet film!


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