Utah man’s broken camera captures spectacular Ring of Fire shot
Oct 16, 2023, 6:46 PM | Updated: 6:58 pm
Salt Lake City — As Utahns swap stories and photos of last weekend’s spectacular, annular Ring of Fire eclipse, one Salt Lake City hobby photographer is recounting how his trip — and photos– were nearly ruined because of a mishap before the big event.
Planning for the perfect shot of the annular solar eclipse took Prajit Ravindran an entire year. Ravindran, a software engineer, is passionate about landscape photos and cosmic events.
He said he’d been thinking about this eclipse since 2020 and started to seriously plan the logistics last January.
His main goal: “I wanted the sun to line up with a [rock] feature.”
With that in mind, Ravindran took a half a dozen trips down to southern Utah over several months to scout locations and rock formations. He used an app to calculate the sun’s height, time, and angle as he drove around and looked at different spots.
Ravindran decided on Capitol Reef, one of his favorite areas. He took a few trips to the park before last weekend to get it right.
“I need to be like looking upwards, over the cliff,” he said. “I just like drove around the park and just trying to find out like where it’s going to line up with.”
He traveled down ahead of the eclipse and took test photos before Saturday morning in the spot he chose. But as he was packing up the camera, it slipped and fell on the ground.
The display screen cracked and stopped working, which Ravindran needed to rely on to line up and capture his shots.
All the planning couldn’t prepare him for a broken camera.
“When the display broke out, I actually was more determined to get it to work somehow,” he expressed. “I spent the entire year planning for this and coming in. And I can’t let that stop me now.”
Deciding against driving back to Salt Lake, Ravindran pushed forward. He marked the spot where he was supposed to place the tripod for totality. He was only able to peek through the tiny viewfinder from a distance, so he didn’t bump the camera.
“I set the focus point on the rocks, and then I didn’t change the focus after that,” he said.
The preparation paid off because the money shot Ravindran had been hoping for turned out perfectly.
He pulled up that photo on his laptop Monday, which shows the Ring of Fire resting on the rock formation.
“This almost looks like the palm of your hand,” he said, of the way the top of the rock formation curves beneath the eclipse. “I thought, if you get the ring in the hand, it almost looks like it’s holding the ring.”
Out of 1,500 photos Ravindran took before, during, and after totality, there are two he likes best.
The second photo he loves shows the eclipse emerging from behind the rock, right before reaching the Ring of Fire.
Ravindran says he returned with a huge smile, happy with the photos. Even a broken camera couldn’t shatter that moment.
“It was like a nice sense of satisfaction,” Ravindran said. “Everything worked out well in the end.”