Photographing the Solar Eclipse 2019 in Chile
I have been extremely busy the last 2 months with lots of work and travel. One of the highlights was photographing the Solar eclipse in Chile. I was actually there organising a photo tour with Elia Locardi and Dreamphototours . After the eclipse we went to Torres del Paine Patagonia to shoot some epic landscapes. But this article is about the eclipse. I had never seen a full solar eclipse in my life so this was definitely something special. As we were with a group we made sure everything had the right gear and practised before hand. We arrived in Chile a few days early to make sure we had enough time to prepare.
The place where we were shooting the observatory was close to the La Silla observatory in Chile. As this eclipse was only visible in a small part of the world we had to make sure we were in this 'band' to see it fully. There are apps to see exactly where and when eclipses are. I always use Photopills for it. They're good friends of mine and you can find lots of guides on their Youtube channel to see exactly how to plan shots like this.
For this shoot I initially didn't plan anything. As I didn't really know the specifics of the location beforehand it was difficult to see if I could plan something epic. That, and being with a photo group made it difficult to plan anything beforehand. After many flights we finally arrived at the location somewhere in the desert of Chile. I knew that the eclipse would be quite close to the horizon and about 90 minutes before sunset, so with that angle there was actually a possibility to do something more interesting than just shooting the sun and the moon align. Don't get me wrong, it's amazing to see and photograph by itself. But I always want to do just that little bit more.
It turned out that there was a nearby hill that lined up with the angle of the eclipse. I used the AR view of Photopills to check this exactly and decided it was worth a try. I asked some people of the group if they wanted to try the shot with me, and one of them decided it was cool to do. The rest of the group decided to go for the 'safe' shot of just getting the eclipse by itself. We were with 3 guides so this was no issue. We quickly planned a shot that would involve a person on the hill lined up with the eclipse. One of the guys, Bart Lablans, from the tour agreed to be the model. As he wanted to shoot a time-lapse of the eclipse himself with himself standing upon a rock, it would be perfect for us to shoot from afar and get him to model next to the eclipse.
Some quick planning, aligning and using a radio to talk from a distance made the following shots happen. Over a period of less than 2 minutes we did a sequence of great shots. These shots are in chronological order:
Close to full eclipse with the last part of the moon sliding in front of the sun. Bart standing on the hill just beneath it. These shots were made with the Sony A7RIII, 100-400GM and 1.4tc
As the eclipse was full, both the sun and moon set, going down and we quickly tried some different poses with this one where Bart was holding the moon.
As the moon set more I was directing Bart via the radio to stand next to it. By closing up the lens I created the sunstar when the sun started to be visible from again.
The sun created some great sunstars when it opened up again and disappeared behind the hill
These shots were done with my Sony A7RIII, 100-400GM lens with the 1.4tc. A Benro geared-head was used for quick precise positioning of the setup. If you want to know more about geared-heads, check my separate article.
I also set up a timelapse on top of the hill where some others of the group where shooting. Here's a shot of the timelapse when the eclipse was very close to full:
Experiencing a total solar eclipse its really something magical. The sky turns dark during the day and you can see the stars. Seeing the sun being covered can't be shown in a photo. Experiencing this in real life is really something amazing. It gets quiet, your heart beat changes, the shadows get weird. It's like magic!
Everyone in the group got a nice shot of the eclipse so it was a great successful day! I'm sure we we will all talk about this for a very long time.