Solar Eclipse over Sneffels

solar eclipse, Mt. Sneffels, San Juan Mountains, Colorado

Solar Eclipse over the Sneffels Range : Prints Available

The peak of the May 2012 annular solar eclipse above Yankee Boy Basin.  Potosi Peak is on the right, with Mt. Sneffels behind.  At the bottom you can see the solar eclipse as refracted in the lens flare.

On Sunday, Claudia and I hiked up a mountain here in the San Juans to get a view of the solar eclipse! This eclipse was particularly exciting for us photographers in the western US because it occurred right around sunset time. After some research with Stephen Trainor’s indispensable sunrise/sunset tool, The Photographer’s Ephemeris, I decided to hike up Hayden Mountain near Ouray in order to hopefully get a shot of the eclipse over Mt. Sneffels and Potosi Peak, two of the biggest and most rugged mountains in the San Juans. 3600 feet and several hours later, we were atop Hayden North at 13,139 feet just in time to eat our sandwich and wait a few minutes for the eclipse to begin.

solar eclipse, Potosi Peak, Mt. Sneffels, San Juan Mountains, Colorado, sunset

Solar Eclipse Sunset : Prints Available

The May 2012 annular solar eclipse sets behind Potosi Peak and Mt. Sneffels.  At the bottom you can see the solar eclipse as refracted in the lens flare.

While I was shooting the eclipse with my 70-200mm lens, I was surprised and thrilled to see that the eclipse was clearly visible as colored refractions in the lens flare! Normally I go to great pains to minimize or eliminate all lens flare, but this time I quickly experimented with different focal lengths, angles, apertures, and shutter speeds in order to fully maximize the lens flare and the eclipse refractions.

I’m stoked to have lucked out with clear weather to witness this rare astrological event in my favorite mountains!

19 thoughts on “Solar Eclipse over Sneffels

  1. Well done! What solar filter did you use? I had a heck of a time with makeshift filter I used… The difficulty with the f makes me appreciate the quality your work even more!

    1. Hi Brian, I only had a circular polarizer for this. Both photos above were blends of about 4-5 exposures each from the same focal length and position. For the dark eclipse exposures, I just used as a very quick shutter speed and small aperture. Even then, the sun is still blown out a bit, but at least you can see the shape of the moon.

    1. Thanks Avishek! Yeah that lens flare “idea” was pretty much just spur of the moment luck… I wasn’t expecting that at all until I saw it on the camera’s lcd!

  2. Lens flare! Sweet! Awesome shots, Jack. Glad to see there is still some snow out there. We’ll be in Lake City in a few weeks and it’s going to feel like July it seems.

  3. Very cool, Jack, especially the first one with that play of flares. Definitely never seen a shot like this before. I got some of the same kinds of flares, but I didn’t realize it was happening at the time. That sucker sure was a bitch to shoot, though I did end up with some good stuff as it sank to the horizon.

    1. Hey Jackson, I checked out your site… you definitely got some good shots!!! I agree it was tough to shoot – I was totally unprepared as far as proper filters and whatnot, and by the end my eyes felt a bit worked from repeatedly unintentionally glancing at the sun.

  4. great shots. i used a space blanket and layered it up 2-3 layers depending on the shot and it worked out great. (also didnt get the internal lens reflections/flare from stacked filters) I just held it in front of the lens or had people hold it out at arms length to block the sun. was able to get single exposures showing the eclipsed sun and the surrounding environment. a totally unexpected thing was the mylar reflected what was behind us (a sunset mountain scene) and it looked awesome. was a very difficult thing to photograph that’s for sure.

  5. Super cool! When I first saw the lens flares, I thought it was pretty neat for a lens flare, then I read your description and was really impressed! :mind blown:

  6. Could i please buy a hard copy print of the ‘Solar Eclipse over the Sneffells range’ please. Let me know the price and I will send the money immediately. Thanks. Les.

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