Photographing a total solar eclipse is difficult on its own, but try adding three extreme skiers and a trip to the high Arctic and it’s a whole other ball game. When the total solar eclipse took place on March 20, 2015, there were only two places in the world from which it would be completely visible—and neither one of them were exactly accessible or convenient. But, photographer Reuben Krabbe saw the eclipse as a once in a lifetime opportunity to capture an image so rare, so elusive, that many thought it was impossible:
In March of 2015, Krabbe and a team of skiers, guides, and camera crew set out to Svalbard in the high Arctic. A total solar eclipse was about to take place and Krabbe had a vision that he was determined to make real. Europe, North Africa, and North Asia would see a partial solar eclipse, but the total eclipse would only be visible on Svalbard and the Faroe Islands, so off to Svalbard they went.
Krabbe’s goal was to capture the skiers in front of the eclipse as they skied down sharp, pristine mountains. He had spent three months planning the perfect shot and two weeks scouting the perfect location.
The skiers’ goal was to ski a face that they had only dreamed about. It’s a skiers paradise, really, with stacks and stacks of beautiful, “shreddable” couloirs.
Of course, there would be challenges along the way. The team had to battle frigid weather and potential frostbite, all the while trying to find a location where the sun, moon, skier, and camera would align for the envisioned shot. To get the shot he wanted—of a skier inside the surface of the golden sun against pitch black surroundings—there would need to be clear skies and Krabbe would need to shoot from at least 1.5 kilometers away.
About an hour and a half before the eclipse, the skiers positioned themselves on a ridge over a kilometer away from Krabbe’s camera to prepare for the event that would only last about two and a half minutes. Cutting it a bit close, even in perfect conditions. Luckily, the weather gods were on Krabbe’s side that day and he was able to successfully capture the image he wanted.
Krabbe used an 850mm lens with a 14-stop solar filter to get the golden shot.
The shoot was a huge success and beyond worth it.
The team had been faced with a few setbacks and challenges on their expedition, but managed to persevere. Check out the full story in this behind the scenes video that follows them on their journey:
A total solar eclipse is an incredibly rare event and the chances of capturing a shot like this are pretty slim. It was not an easy feat, but it just goes to show how far a lot of creative drive and determination will get you!
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