Originally published in Points West magazine
How I Got That Shot: Horse’s Head Lunar Eclipse
By Mack Frost
As a photographer, I have always been fascinated with landscape and scenic photography. I’ll take the occasional wildlife photo when they happen along in front of my lens, but I’m always looking for the scenery first.
I always check to see what kind of eclipses are going to occur during the year, and on June 4, 2012, just before sunrise, a partially eclipsed full moon would be setting in the southwest.
Using an online program, I was able to plot the time, locations, and sightlines of the setting moon around Cody, Wyoming. I picked a spot that lined up the Horse’s Head snowfield on the upper South Fork of the Shoshone River with the volcanic pinnacle of Castle Rock, several miles downstream. Old-timers have long said that when the reins on the Horse’s Head snowfield are broken, rivers and streams are low enough to reach the backcountry.
I picked a shooting location near the top of a hill along the South Fork Road. The moon would be lined up perfectly around 5:26 a.m., with about a 10-minute window to get the shot.
I arrived with plenty of time to set up, but a band of clouds was partially obscuring the moon. I could only hope that as the moon drifted nearer the horizon, the clouds would clear. Using a tripod, I took a few test shots to determine the best exposure, and at 5:24 started taking photos, 72 of them over the next five minutes before the eclipsed portion of the moon slid beneath the horizon. I set the camera shutter to a 2-second delay to avoid camera shake, and took a photo about every three seconds.
Just in time, the clouds cleared and I nailed it. The best shot was taken at 5:26:34. Back home, images safely downloaded onto my computer, I performed some post-processing and came up with this image, one of my most popular photos.
About the author
Mack Frost is a lifelong Cody, Wyoming, resident who works as a digital technician in the McCracken Research Library at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West. He displays his photography at Open Range Images in downtown Cody.