How It Was Shot: A Climber and a Total Solar Eclipse

On August 21st, 2017, a large swath of the United States was treated to a sighting of a solar eclipse. Naturally, this inspired photographers around the country to grab their cameras and immortalize the event in a photo. Two of the most viral images were captured by photographers Ted Hesser and Andrew Studer.

The 4-minute video above is the story of how Hesser and Studer managed to capture their viral photos of a climber silhouetted against the total solar eclipse.

The two photographers teamed up with climber Tommy Smith to create mesmerizing photos of Smith during totality, and the extreme effort and planning it required totally paid off. It took Hesser 4 days just to find the perfect location. Here’s a look at Studer setting up his camera prior to totality:

During the eclipse, Smith positioned himself on the Monkey Face of Smith Rock in Oregon and posed to allow the photographers below to line-up and capture the image. The spot is significant to the team because this is considered to be the “birthplace of sport climbing.”

To achieve the image they had to measure and estimate where exactly the sun would be positioned in the sky relative to the camera during totality, a challenge that would make or break the shoot. But it worked, and the team shot something that hasn’t been done before.

“Total goosebumps, I’ve never seen anything like that before,” summed up Hesser.

Here’s the photo captured by Hesser:

Here’s the viral photo captured by Studer:

The photo is likely to invite knee-jerk cries of “Photoshop” due to its perfection in execution, but the duo shot a number of frames that show the scene at various moments throughout the eclipse:

Image credits: Photographs by Theodore Hesser and Andrew Struder, and used with permission