Eclipse 2017 Photographs

There were a lot of different ways to shoot an Eclipse.  I wanted to share my story on how I captured the  eclipse2017 that happened on Monday, August 21. I have a few lessons learned (and remember there are 10 more solar eclipses in the next seven years – depending on where you live).  Click here to learn about the next ones coming.


I was truly fortunate to have a dear friend who is building a house that by happy circumstance was less than a mile from the center of the eclipse’s path. The location was perfect. Another photographer and I drove up the previous morning to beat traffic and be certain to be ready at the appointed time. That evening found us grilling burgers and enjoying really great chili that one of the other photographers had made and brought along. We hit our sleeping mats or air mattresses with visions of lions and tigers and bears. Well, not the lions and tigers. Certainly, bears were a possibility as we were deep in the North Carolina woods. I was not worried. No one had cooked there until we arrived so the place was could not have been on any bear’s radar or nostrils. The night was quiet as only a place far from humanity can be. It was also dark. Very dark. There was no light pollution.

Cameras, lenses, & tripods… Oh My!

Cameras & Lenses & Tripods Oh My await the beginning of Eclipse 2017

Cameras aimed sunward to capture the impending eclipse.

Having survived a night of non-visiting bears we awoke, had breakfast and began to prepare for the arrival of the moon. There were only six of us that day. No over crowding. No parking issues. No problems really except for the heat. Fortunately, we had all planned ahead. There was plenty to drink (water during the day, adult beverages the previous evening.) The rustic setting set the tone for what was to happen.

First “Bite”

There was a lot of excitement as the moon began its crossing of the sun toward totality. The first “bite” will shortly look like a “Pac-Man” in black and white.

First bite of the moon crossing the sun at the eclipse's beginning

The moon makes its first “bite” as it begins it sun crossing. The dark dots are sunspots.

Crescent Sun

A crescent moon occurs when the earth blocks some of the sunlight that would otherwise hit our nearest orbiting neighbor.  Here, the moon blocks out part of the sun creating a “crescent sun” in the middle of the afternoon.

The moon blocks out part of the sun creating a crescent shape.

The Diamond Ring

Just before the eclipse moves into totality a sideways diamond ring shape appears. The bright spot on the right is the sun itself forming the diamond. The corona around the moon is the band that makes the ring shape.

The “diamond” on the right is the last of the sun that shows before totality.

Before and after totality, shadow edges are rendered as crescent shapes. Compare the shadows of my camera. The one on the left was made well into the eclipse. The one on the right was taken after it was over. Look at the edges. You can see the crescent shapes on the shadow edges. These happen only during an eclipse.

Comparing cast shadows in an eclipse and after it.

Crescent edged shadows on the left image occur only during an eclipse


The sky darkens. Birds scatter, confused by the sudden loss of light. The temperature drops. It is finally comfortable if only for a couple of minutes. Everyone is awe struck. There are some “oooohhhhs” and “aaaawwwwws” from the non-photographers. The photographers, myself included, were seeing the eclipse through long lenses. The moment of totality was profound for us twice. First during the actual moment of the total eclipse of the sun and then later, in front of our monitors, where we saw what we had not only experienced but captured as well.

The total eclipse of the sun August 21, 2017 near Marble, NC.

The sun is covered by the moon. The rays are Bailey’s Beads caused by sunlight streaming through the craggy mountains on the lunar surface.

Photography has lead me to experience many things that a lot of others have lived as well. The difference between them and me is that I have experienced those sights through a lens that concentrates my recall and magnifies what I feel. Years after making a photograph, seeing it again takes me instantly back to when my finger was pressing the shutter. I know the sounds, the smells and the moment vividly like it was happening again. Wonderful!


Kevin Ames is a commercial photographer living in Atlanta, Georgia.

All of the photographs in this blog post are ©2017 Kevin Ames

The eclipse photographs were made with a Canon 1Dx Mark II camera body with a Sigma TC-2001 2X teleconverter on a Sigma 150-600mm f/5.0-6.3 DG OS HSM Sports telephoto lens

The setup & shadow photos were made with a Canon 1Dx camera body and a Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art lens.