I’ve always been able to find adventure everywhere I go and this trip was no different. This year’s trip was overdue, needed and unexpectedly one of the best two weeks I have experienced on so many levels.  After a long spell of recovery from a motorcycle accident and an Indiana winter, I was foaming at the mouth to get out and do something grand this year.  The previous big trip was in October of 2015 and due to work and the accident the walls were starting to creep in on me.  This is not how I like to live my life and my no means should one ever be incarcerated by their vocation and confined to a life that does not facilitate living life.

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Before The Trip

April of 2017 I had caught wind of the total solar eclipse and decided this was what I was going to do this.  I had photography equipment, a passion for photography and travel complimented by my burning desire to just go somewhere.  For the first time in my life I would have a photography centric vacation and the planning began.

I had not done any solar photography beyond some stuff my cousin and I did back in the early 90’s using a telescope and a 35mm camera.  It was an extremely active solar cycle and we set forth to take pictures of all the sunspots we could.  Fast forward to today, I’d have forgotten most of what we figured out way back when.   I was still on a learning curve with my modest camera equipment.  So I began researching on what I would need,  how best to use it and where I was going to go to shoot the eclipse.  How, what, when and where!  This is usually a good rule to live by.

The What

I had quickly deduced that my measly selections of lens would not suffice for this trip or this type of photography.  My cameras where the Nikon 1 J5 and D5500.  At the time the D5500 for best this for task. Ok, need lenses and filters… check!  The 18mm-55mm wasn’t going to cut it.  Need DX lenses now.  I decided a 35mm prime and a 70mm-300mm would be great additions to the bag.  These would give me about all the focal ranges I needed for this camera without breaking the bank.  So I thought.

The How

Now everyone has/had an opinion on how to shoot the eclipse.  I read and watched almost all of them. Then I stumbled up on this one video by Hudson Henry and things started clicking.

I started pouring over Hudson’s videos and really enjoyed how he spoke of photography.  The other things I consumed were technical, biased and dry.  Most, totally lacking that artistic passion which should be the foundation that I found Hudson project through his discussions.  I even set up a phone consultation with him for a sanity check beyond the scope of his tutorials.  I was now armed with confidence that I could pull this off in the field.

Hudson also has a downloadable Landscape and Travel Course that I would highly recommend to anyone wanting to do more with their photography.

The Where

With all the knowledge I compiled off the internet and a great deal of extra info Hudson bestowed upon me I was searching for my spot to take the perfect eclipse photo.  I found out that the company that built my camper, Sylvan Sport was holding an eclipse campout in North Carolina.  Fortunately for me they sold out and made me start coming up with alternative plans.  This allowed me to be more dynamic on this trip. You cannot know exactly what mother nature will do and being stuck at a location with no way to deviate from that plan just wouldn’t work for me.

I secured camping with an acceptable price due to all the price hiking surrounding the event.  Also, I came with multiple spots I could easily travel to get this one epic photo.  Now I was good, I had plans within plans and I was good to go now.

The More What

With all this planning and searching for the more camera gear.  I picked up the aforementioned lenses.  With Hudson’s recommendations I also acquired a Tokina 11mm-20mm wide-angle lens.  I needed something wide and fast for my lightning/weather photography and this fit the bill nicely.  I love this lens!!  Through Amazon I purchased all my various filters, film and glasses to safely do this.  I will add, Amazon refunded for them but they all worked without issue.  The new tripod and head was also added to the list which has proven to be a great purchase.

Lastly, a D810 fell into my lap at a great deal.  So I quickly outfitted that with more lenses.

  • 28mm AI-S
  • 50mm AI-S
  • 105mm AI-S
  • 70mm-300mm G

I also got myself a hiking friendly, larger camera bag.  The LowePro ProTactic 450 AW – Limited Edition.  At the very last-minute I added a Nikon FT-1 adapter to the list.  It adapts Nikon F mount lenses to the Nikon 1 CX mount body.  This gave me the ability to use my DX lenses on my J5.  It was small and thought it could come in real handy on the trip.

I’ll go into more detail later on all the gear I acquired for this trip.  So far my bag looks like this now


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More To Come

With all these plans set. My next post will dive into the adventure we call life.  Shome how the universe sometimes pulls you into the direction you need to go thus possibly altering your direction indefinitely.

Part 2 Is Here