Wyoming Solar Eclipse. August 21, 2017. We knew the crowds would be large, we knew the traffic would be bad, but we had to go anyway…it was just too close to miss. August 21st brought the total solar eclipse through the middle of Wyoming. My sister, dad and I decided to witness it first hand.
My family stayed with my folks that weekend, they live on the Colorado side of the Wyoming border up near Red Feather Lakes. The plan was for my sister to come up and meet my dad and I near the Wyoming border on 287. We’d carpool from there. The target was south of Casper on BLM land, staying clear of the I-25 corridor. There we’d be in the center of the shadow for the longest totality without the crowds.
We drove on Wyoming 487 and there was a good amount of traffic so we jumped off onto Wyoming 77 and was just looking for a nice spot with a good view. Just so happened we hit the Shirley Ridge which had an amazing 360 view, and only two other cars were there. We got there a couple of hours early.
Since we were early, we set up our cameras and then I started wandering around looking at rocks. There were agates and jaspers laying everywhere! Cool. So a rock hound and celestial road trip together! Can’t beat that!
For the photography buffs out these, here was my setup. I had a Sony Alpha with 2x teleconverter and 70-200mm lens zoomed. That gives me 400mm, and then I used APS-C mode on the camera to give me another boost to 600mm. My dad had purchased a solar viewing film and I had that taped on the lens hood with painters tape to not leave residue. All of this was on a tripod which was a lot of weight, but luckily the mirrorless cameras are light in comparison and it didn’t get too windy so I felt we were safe.
My plan was to take pictures every 3 minutes both coming into and leaving the eclipse and then during totality I would remove the lens hood, refocus, and take shots at different settings to capture all the different features of the totality. All of this worked except one thing, I realized about half way into the waning of the eclipse that I was out of focus. I didn’t realize that my focal point was the film several inches off of the end of the lens (affixed to the lens hood). So I didn’t focus correctly getting many of the waning shots. Oh well, rookie mistake.
Leading up to the totality the birds and crickets started to sing and make noise as if it was dusk. There were no trees so we didn’t see the kaleidoscopic effect that others saw which would have been amazing. It also got considerably cooler, fast, and the winds started to blow adding to the chill factor.
During totality it was a scramble, I was taking many shots with different settings per Mr. Eclipse‘s chart above and then I sat the camera down and just observed. What was cool was the 360 degree view we had, and the 360 degree color spanning the horizon!
The trip home wasn’t too bad, although there was about an hour backup on 487 because of the stop sign in Medicine Bow at US 287. But the state troopers had that engineered well and traffic slowly flowed through and no-one had to completely stop.