Solar Eclipse Photographs During Totality at 1800mm

Solar Eclipse Photographs

This is a post about my experiences photographing the solar eclipse and I really could not decide which one of my websites to publish it on…so it’s cross posted on all of them! 🙂

Several months ago I began to get a little bit interested in the possibility of trying my hand in creating some pretty basic solar eclipse photographs and the more research I did I became more and more interested. Once I realized I had pretty much the PERFECT spot to photograph from (my Dad’s old place in between Madisonville and Tellico Plains, TN) I really started trying to learn as much as I could about the whole process. Turns out there is a LOT to it!

The Canon Learning Center has an excellent guide to solar eclipse photography that I learned a lot from, and armed with just enough information to be dangerous I went ahead and ordered a 12″ by 12″ sheet of black polymer from Thousand Oaks Optical to make some filters out of.

About a month before “The Big Day” I decided it was time to get some long glass rented and discovered there was practically nothing available until the day after the eclipse. Woops! At that point I lost a little bit of interest but continued to search for some lenses, then one day I had the crazy thought of contacting Nikon Pro Services and seeing what they could do to help me, fully expecting to hear that nothing was available. Much to my surprise, I quickly had a 600mm f/4.0 with a 2.0 teleconverter heading my way. Things were really beginning to get serious!

My friend Wade Payne was photographing the eclipse for the Knoxville News Sentinel from Clingmans Dome in the Great Smoky Mountains so we decided to come up with a way to quickly remove the filters to ensure we could shoot as much as possible during totality. Turns out this was VERY important to the final outcome!

Solar Eclipse Photographs

Black polymer layout. From one 12″ by 12″ sheet ($50) we made filters for a 600mm, 400mm, 200-500mm, and a 70-200mm lens. Just barely!


Solar Eclipse Photographs

Wade building filters.


Once we had everything built and assembled it was time to start practicing. I was having a difficult time with my tripod selection until I remembered I had a massive Bogen tripod that my buddy Neil Copeland had loaned me a while back. Worked like a champ!

Solar Eclipse Photographs

Victoria with the 600mm f/4.0 with filter attached, 2.0 teleconverter, Nikon D500, and the Bogen tripod.


On Sunday I went ahead and traveled down to Dad’s to start setting up. Best part of this location is the fact that it is on a private road behind two locked gates 🙂 My wife Laura, grand daughter Victoria, and Izzy (little dog) came down Monday morning, my brother Mike and his friend Derrick drove up all the way from Miami, and my buddy Donald Page and Trooper (big dog) also came on Monday.

We wound up setting up/using several cameras and lens combinations, everything from a pinhole camera to the 1800mm setup. Lots of cool different looks but the “money” shots came from the long setup. Donald and I are sharing credit on those, it seriously took two people to track the sun, manually focus, edit the files, etc. I’m very happy that I had the video rolling, big shoutout to Brad Coulter for the super quick edits!

Here is the almost four minute long video through the totality sequence:

Solar Eclipse Through Totality from Randy Sartin on Vimeo.

And here it is in twenty one seconds:

Eclipse In 21 Seconds from Randy Sartin on Vimeo.


Here are the images shot with the D500 and 600mm setup:


Solar Eclipse Photographs

The Beginning!


Solar Eclipse Photographs


Solar Eclipse Photographs


Solar Eclipse Photographs


Solar Eclipse Photographs


Solar Eclipse Photographs

Getting close!


Solar Eclipse Photographs

BOOM! This is where we all started squealing like kids! 🙂


Solar Eclipse Photographs


Solar Eclipse Photographs


Solar Eclipse Photographs


Solar Eclipse Photographs


Solar Eclipse Photographs

And just like that it was over. 🙁


HUGE thanks to Donald for A) Coming to the shoot and B) Editing the images above. We shot 5 bracketed images (with Pocket Wizards) for each sequence and basically the ones shown above are the shortest exposures. Cropped as they are, each original image is at least 3973 pixels wide and some are over 5500 pixels wide.

Here are a few behind the scenes photographs:

Solar Eclipse Photographs

600mm lens and Bogen tripod.


Solar Eclipse Photographs

General location.


Solar Eclipse Photographs

Donald doing some serious preparation. 🙂


Solar Eclipse Photographs

Derrick and my brother Michael drove all the way up from Miami just for the eclipse.


And last but not least, the night before I just had to play with the 10.5mm lens 🙂

So it turns out there is A LOT to creating solar eclipse photographs! I had an absolute blast, learned a ton, came away with almost exactly what I wanted, etc. so I am as happy as can be with the results. I greatly appreciate everyone’s help, when it comes to solar eclipse photographs it definitely “Takes a Village” 🙂 The eclipse images are available to view and/or purchase here.

If I ever have the chance to do it all again I think I would want a tad bit shorter focal length, like 1500mm or so and I would definitely have a better departure plan, like wait until the next day!


Concrete Cutting and Sawing Photography in Knoxville, TN

Concrete Cutting Sawing Photography

Several months ago I was hired by a Knoxville, TN based concrete cutting company (CUTS, Inc.) to photograph the cutting and sawing of a shock absorbing machinery pad at the University of Tennessee. Awesome group of people to work with and it was a very cool/interesting project. Concrete cutting sawing photography is a bit loud, a bit hazardous, a bit dirty, but it was a BLAST! 🙂

The pad was 5 feet wide, 9 feet long, and weighed approximately 19,500 pounds. They used a Pentruder diamond wire saw to make the horizontal cuts, then a Pentruder wall saw to make most of the vertical cuts.

Huge shout out to Matt and Matthew Hephner of CUTS for the job, and also to Brad Coulter for assisting me that day! Here’s a few of my favorite images.

Knoxville Commercial Fitness Equipment Photography

Fitness Equipment Photography

Back in the day, one of my first “big” jobs was shooting at Power Systems for a local Public Relations firm. Fitness equipment photography was all new for me, but all went well! Lately I have been doing quite a bit of work directly for Power Systems based here in Knoxville, TN.

It’s a true team effort as there is a TON of work involved setting these shoots up, everything from securing locations/models, setting up the sets, and a hundred other things…all before we even start worrying about photography. 🙂 Super great bunch of people to work with and we have all came up with some pretty cool concepts and techniques for making these shoots go as smoothly as possible. One of my favorites is that my images are instantly transferred to an iPad or Laptop that the Power Systems folks are looking at, so the models and I get instant feedback (OK, sometimes there’s a small bit of yelling involved, but it’s all in good fun) 🙂 regarding posing, angles, technique, etc.

And be sure to check out the Power Systems website, give them a follow on  FaceBook, or Twitter, and they have an awesome Instagram Feed. Plus I want to give a huge shout out to Harvey Elkins (Director of Sales) and Christy Browning (Brand Manager) for all of their assistance.

Anyway, here’s a few of my images from the last several months of use in catalogs, social media, trade shows, etc. And please get in touch with me to discuss any fitness equipment photography needs you may have!

Rick Laney Marketing Wins ADDY Awards for UTFCU Campaign Knoxville Commercial Photographer

Knoxville Commercial Photographer

Last year I was approached by one of my favorite clients, Rick Laney Marketing, to produce some content for a large campaign they were doing for UT Federal Credit Union. Sounded like an awesome project (which it was) and as a Knoxville Commercial Photographer I was very glad to be a part of it. Turns out we all did a great job, because at the end of February the project won two ADDY awards, one for Cross-Platform Integrated Campaigns and one for Print Advertising.

The American Advertising Federation calls the ADDY Awards the “world’s largest and arguably toughest advertising competition.” The mission of the American Advertising Awards competition is to recognize and reward the creative spirit of excellence in the art of advertising. There were more than 400 local entries this year and winners were recognized at the annual gala held at the Crowne Plaza in downtown Knoxville.

As always, I managed to have a quick chat with some of Knoxville’s Finest and I greatly appreciate them allowing me a few more minutes to complete a shot…whoever installs one-way signs in this town has absolutely no concept of lighting angles and background placement 🙂

It was great seeing the images used in a variety of locations including full page newspaper ads,  on billboards around the local area, all over websites, etc. You can check out more of the campaign here. As always, please feel free to contact me with any of your Knoxville Commercial Photographer needs. Here are a few images…


President Obama Visits East TN

Well here’s one off of the bucket list! President Obama and Vice President Biden visited East TN and stopped by an industrial facility that I have worked for in the past. They produce some of the content in the Cobra that is in the images, which was actually manufactured with a 3-D printer. It’s certainly some amazing technology!