Behind the Shot: Diamond Ring

by | Nov 1, 2017 | Pic of the Month | 0 comments

Final diamond ring

Diamond Ring
August 21, 2017 Total Solar Eclipse
Downloadable as a free desktop wallpaper for Lenspiration subscribers

The first time I heard about it was in early July.

“Hey, you planning on taking any pictures of the solar eclipse next month?” a friend asked as I was packing up after the Sacramento Family Conference Photography Team.

“An Eclipse? No. Sounds interesting.” My August schedule was busy. I wasn’t interested in fitting in anything else.

He probably felt like asking, “Have you been living under a rock?”

Initially, I had no intention of going to see totality. Why? The only mental picture I had associated with “eclipse” was the less-exciting-than-expected lunar eclipses I had tried to photograph in the past.

A total solar eclipse did sound more interesting though, especially after researching it a bit. But still, it sounded expensive. Doesn’t solar photography require specialized equipment? And the longest lens I had was 200mm. How could I expect to get anything worth keeping? Leave it to the professionals. Then there was the location factor. In northern West Virginia, I was 8+ hours from the closest points on the path of totality. And by now, I was quickly finding out, it was way too late to find any place to stay.


So I dismissed it from my mind. I contented myself with watching it in partiality with borrowed eclipse glasses with my family in the backyard.

But then things took an unexpected turn. . . .

A photographer from Ohio said he might be interested in traveling down with me if I decided to go. Another family from Ohio said the same thing.

I looked into lodging a little more closely. The path of totality passed right over the home of family in North Carolina. I shot them an email. They were already expecting guests and had rented out the apartment above their garage . . . but they said they could fit us in if we wanted!

So I said, “We want to!”

By now I had done more research. It wasn’t as big a deal as I thought it was going to be to photograph it. And with the addition of just a single sheet of solar film, I felt confident I could photograph it well enough with the equipment that I had. And since I could carpool with other photographers, that helped to justify the expense.

Oddly enough, both photographers from Ohio canceled last minute. And I would have canceled too if it hadn’t been for the even-later-than-last-minute decision for the family from New York coming down and pick me up on their way down.

170819-James Staddon_0721

And so, that’s how I got to totality!

But really, that was when the story began for me. I still had the challenge of making a good photograph of the eclipse ahead of me.

And I was nervous.

I had done plenty of research ahead of time, but there’s nothing like actually living through that experience of actually doing it. And it turned out quite differently than I expected!




I have finally finished writing down all my field notes from photographing that epic event!

PRO members can read everything I learned from that day in the latest special feature, How I Photographed The Eclipse.

In the article, learn:

  • My final conclusions on solar photography safety
  • 6 mistakes to avoid for maximizing the enjoyment of your eclipse photography experience
  • How I created my own home-made solar filter
  • What it was like to run two different cameras during the eclipse
  • Exactly what exposure settings I used to photograph each phase of the eclipse
  • How I bracketed totality
  • My favorite eclipse photo merging method
  • Behind the scenes before/after shots of the Diamond Ring shot

Hopefully, I’ll be better prepared for the next total solar eclipse when it crosses the US once again on April 8, 2024!

2017 Total Solar Eclipse Collage

different shutter speeds


2017 Total Solar Eclipse Blue Glow


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