2017 Total Solar Eclipse Rye Valley Oregon
A rare Total Solar Eclipse occurred on August 21, 2017, all across the United States. A total solar eclipse occurs when the Moon completely blocks the direct light of the Sun. The path of totality swept across the US moving from Oregon in the west to South Carolina in the east. Rye Valley, located in eastern Oregon, was an excellent place to view the eclipse.
This location in Rye Valley was sitting directly in the path of totality. In fact, it was right on the centerline giving us a full 2 minutes and 9 seconds of Totality. Since the weather of the region is very arid, I knew that the possibility of having nice clear skies would be very good. All this combined to make Rye Valley an excellent place to view and photograph the eclipse.
I have always dreamt of capturing totality with my camera. Totality is the period of time that the Moon completely blocks the Sun, allowing the Sun’s corona to become visible to the naked eye and to the naked camera. Almost all of America was able to view this magical event, if not totality itself, at least partial solar eclipse. I knew I was finally going to get my chance to photograph totality but with only 2 minutes and 9 seconds, I knew I would have to work fast.
August 21, 2017 – 5 am
The excitement of the day kept me from sleeping, feeling like a kid on Christmas morning, I finally decided to get up and go outside to watch the sunrise. In the quiet and calm morning, I was treated a beautiful view of Venus & Orion on the morning horizon. I took this photo from the very same location I shot the eclipse only a few hours later. (This is a great photo to view large, the stars really stand out.)
First Contact – 9:09 am
As the moment of first contact drew closer, I set my camera up and took several test shots of the sun just to double check my camera settings with my solar filter on. Photographing the sun requires a special solar filter to protect your camera’s sensor from being burned. Just as the sun is much too bright to look at with your eyes, it is too bright for camera sensors too. Aiming your lens at the sun can not only damage your sensor but melt your lens too. My test shots turned out great, even revealing a few sunspots on the sun.
I must confess, this is the kind of event often inspires me to shoot like crazy… I sorta go nuts! The photo I envisioned for my eclipse image was a series of partial eclipse shots framing a totality shot spanning across the sky. In an effort to approach this project with a little self-restraint, I set a timer on my phone for every 13 minutes. I took a shot every time the timer went off. This would ensure that I had all the images I needed to composite the final image and have plenty of time to enjoy the eclipse in between shots. Interval shooting is a great idea that works well with Lunar Eclipses too, BTW.
Totality! 10:25 am
A tremendous sense of awe and goosebumps came over me in the moments of totality, just as I imagine most people in America also experienced. I quickly removed my solar filter from my lens and proceeded to take a rapid sequence of images, reducing my shutter speed with each click. It was the longer shutter speeds, which revealed the corona in the most detail.
I was delighted to have captured what is called a Diamond Ring, basically a sunburst, just as the Moon was leaving totality. Diamond Rings only happen for a split second making them very difficult to capture. By the time you see it and press the shutter button, the Diamond Ring is already gone. (Reminds me of the Green Flash but that’s a topic for another day!)
Totality darkness is another unique feature of a total solar eclipse. Now, this is really a cool thing all in itself! As the sky darkens, the stars will pop out just for a brief minute. Totality darkness occurs when the Moon’s shadow passes in front of the sun. It looks quite different than regular nighttime darkness. It was more of a tobacco color, perhaps the result of recent wildfires in the region, I am not sure.
The Sun was fairly high in the sky at the time of totality, creating a 360° sunset on every horizon in every direction. Wow! What an amazing sight. I am glad that I was in a wide-open place where I could take it all in.
Last Contact – 11:46 am
As the sun slipped back into normalcy, I finally had an opportunity to review the images I had captured. I was both pleased and disappointed. I had wished that I had captured an image with a stronger corona but pleased with the partial eclipse and the diamond ring photos. But… I suppose that gives me something to look forward to on April 8, 2024, the next total solar eclipse visible in America.
My goal with this photo was to capture the various stages of the eclipse as it unfolded in Rye Valley. Those were the most beautiful and inspirational 2 minutes and 9 seconds of my life. I am sure just about anyone who experienced the eclipse for themselves would agree with me. I hope this image will take you back to that special day and give you goosebumps all over again.
If you enjoyed this post, please feel free to share. As usual, if you have any questions, comments or thoughts please comment below. I love your feedback! You might also like my blog post about Photographing the Lunar Eclipse.
You can purchase a copy of the Rye Valley Eclipse Photo here… Shop