Solar Eclipse of 2017, a Tintype Attempt

Spoiler alert: I'm not sure you can see the eclipse in my tintype.
Spoiler alert: I’m not sure you can see the eclipse in my tintype.

For various reasons I wasn’t planning on doing anything particularly special for the eclipse. I’d watch it myself, then get online and enjoy nice photos from other people. I definitely didn’t have the urge to drive up to the masses of people collecting along the path of totality, figure out the best gear, get stressed out, etc.

So when my friend Shane called about something else, and at the end of the call asked “whatcha doing for the eclipse?”, then went on to say he was thinking of making a small excursion near his home, I was definitely interested. It was the perfect combination of doing “something” for the eclipse, without stressing out about it too much. He did the location scouting and the driving, I was just along for the ride.

Not that I could suppress my basic nature completely, so of course I bought a filter for my camera lenses (still unopened in the package) and some eclipse glasses and did a little research, then filled up half of the back of his truck with my tintype gear. If I got something, I got something, if not, we’d have a great day exploring the desert. Perfect!

Shane took me out to an area northeast of Flagstaff that he particularly likes. He figured there would be some rock formations that we could use in a composition with the eclipse, and if that didn’t work it would still be a good spot to make non-eclipse photos, or just sit in chairs and chill.

We left Shane’s home in Flagstaff around 5:30 in the morning, and got to the location with plenty of time to scout specific angles and get set up. He had identified three different formations that might work: Bart Simpson (top photo), Two Face, and, well, I’ll let you guess what he calls this one:

The desert sure is…happy to see us.

I decided to get in tight under the Bart Simpson formation, and tried to figure out how to expose a tintype for an eclipse. Only managed one test before our location experienced the maximum coverage…of clouds.

Thanks to Shane for the photo – and for cropping out my blindingly white legs.

We were able to see the eclipse as the clouds moved over us, but never very clearly, and I am not sure I managed to hit the right timing of non-dried-out plate and clear view. (I would have the plate all ready, then wait for the clouds to part… at 95F and probably around 10% humidity, it doesn’t take long for the plate to dry out.)

The shot at the top of this post is the best I got, and if the Sun solarized on the plate – i.e., the dark crescent is the sun with the moon coming in from the top right – then I made a tintype of the eclipse. Otherwise…I got clouds or a blip in the collodion.  :-)

Shane relaxes, post-eclipse, in the shade of Two Face. The two faces are much more identifiable from a different angle, in case you’re wondering.

After the eclipse was definitely over we relaxed a little bit and just enjoyed the day and the amazing scenery. Shane is a film guy – mostly medium format and 8×10 – and he took off wandering around the cliffs looking for new angles. I stayed closer to the truck tailgate and my darkroom.

Bart Simpson rock dwarfs Shane’s truck – and the vast open spaces dwarf everything.

As with many of these locations, I could have basically stayed in one place for a couple of days and not run out of things to photograph.

Bart, on the left, talking to…a reclining Lisa?
Shane finally finds a composition worthy of setting up his big 8x10 camera.
Shane finally finds a composition worthy of setting up his big 8×10 camera.
The rock formation that Shane calls “Two Face” really does appear to have the profile of two faces pointing in opposite directions…when viewed from a different side. Due to the sun being where it was at the time, I preferred this angle.

After a while we packed up and moved to a different area. I didn’t get out the tintype equipment again – too tired and baked from the sun – so I walked around a bit with the ol’ digital camera.

Shane reclines in a giant rock basin near a formation he calls The Guardian (the tower on the right) which overlooks a line of boulders below it.
Last shot of the day!

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. ruthmarosche

    This was a view I had not expected. Thank you. I did notice that you couldn’t hold back on getting as many views as possible.

    Thank you again, ruth

  2. Dee

    Fantastic pictures as always!

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