THE SHORT STORY: I was invited by Johan Ernst Nilsson, the adventurer I walked 400 km with, through the Serengeti National Park. We went to Svalbard with one of Johan's clients – Hästens (Swedish luxury bed manufacturer) – who arranged a four-day conference up there for their staff with an intention to have them experience a solar eclipse together. What a great idea.
I had no experience of solar eclipse photography... but with the help of some YouTube clips, staff at the Pro Foto Studio in Stockholm and helpful advice from talented colleagues, I went there with a bag full of enthusiasm.
First of all, you need a clear sky. Then you are aiming a tele lens straight into the sun, to capture it behind a pitch-black moon gradually covering the light source. Pretty tricky exposure conditions. You will need timers, lots of batteries and some luck.
You cannot see what you are doing, you set it up and hope for the best. Will the timer take a shot in the exact right moment? Will the exposure be right? Will the battery handle the cold temperature long enough? Will the tripod stand still enough on the snow?
I was nervous. The temperature dropped dramatically, the darkness made things more mysterious, the timer clicked my camera every few seconds, but I did not know what it captured.
People from all over the world had traveled to Svalbard for this moment. You could touch onto the vibrating excitement in the air.
Yes, yes, yes! The camera settings were correct, the timer worked as expected and I got the images I only dared to hope for.
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THE HAPPY MOMENT: Of course, the exciting feeling after nailing my first picture of a total solar eclipse. On Svalbard. It was absolutely outstanding, and a rush of happiness went through my body. There was no second chance so this was for sure one of my most epic moments as a photographer.