I came across a photo where someone had used a long (around 1000 mm) lens to capture a mountain biker in front of a full moon. Then about a year later, I found out about the upcoming solar eclipse, and thought about doing the same thing, but also light up the rider, instead of just having a black silhouette.
I contacted Red Bull UK and Danny MacAskill, and they were excited about the idea from the go. We ended up searching for the right location for over ten days, there were always things like elevation or not enough distance that got in our way.
Then, on the day before the eclipse, and with time running out, we found the perfect spot. I could move all over a mountain slope to get Danny to align with the sun. It was a rainy day, and the sun was invisible, so we didn’t even get to see where exactly the sun was.
On the morning of the eclipse it was horrendous weather. Rain, wind, mist, clouds, everything but sun. About an hour and a half before eclipse time, all of a sudden the clouds started to part, and we ran to the location. A jump was quickly dug, and I had to dig a hole to put the Move in, because there was no room to put the flash on a light stand.
We ended up getting one chance. So we ended up with one photo. The most rewarding photo I ever took.
Move on full power
The lighting part of the solar eclipse shot was very complicated. First I had to make the flash fire from a distance of 272 metres, this meant I used a transceiver relay to make it fire. Then of course I didn’t know what exposure times I was facing, the lens I was using was so long (800 mm) that it focussed on the area right around the sun, compared to a regular 24 mm I often use.
That meant that I was using 1/250th to capture the flash, on ISO 50, and I would have to open or close aperture to get the right exposure. Usually this is a simple task, but now I had to also adjust the settings on the Move. Dave Mackison helped me out by being on the radio next to the flash the whole time, and I would basically tell him how much power the flash should have.
As soon as we did a test though, it became clear we needed full power, and the Move stayed on full power for the whole shoot. I ended up using F 29 to get the correct exposure.
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