By Emma Castleberry
Last year’s solar eclipse, dubbed “The Great American Eclipse,” was a highly anticipated event across the country. Photographer Scott Ramsey saw the phenomenon as an opportunity to capture a magical image. “I had seen many photos of eclipses, but most were a progressional series of shots and few had any landscape,” he says. “I wanted my final image to appear just like you would see it if you were there.”
This was no small feat. Weeks before the eclipse, Ramsey traveled along the Blue Ridge Parkway looking for the perfect spot. “I am a huge fan of the Blue Ridge Parkway since childhood and I spend a great deal of time hiking and taking pictures along the road,” he says. “I thought of no place better than the Parkway to get this shot.” After taking many test shots, Ramsey finally settled on Mile High Overlook as the setting for his eclipse image. “I knew the final image would involve a composite of two photos since most lenses used for landscapes, due to their wide angle of view, will make objects such as the sun and moon appear very small,” he says.
On August 21, Ramsey set up his Nikon D610 DSLR and prepared for the impending eclipse. The landscape images had already been taken on a previous day with better light and a wide-angle lens, so all that was left was the eclipse image, for which he used a telephoto lens. At 2:30 p.m., Ramsey snapped the shot that would allow him to create his award-winning image, “Diamond on the Blue Ridge Parkway.”
Out of more than 1,000 entries in the 15th Annual Appalachian Mountain Photography Competition, “Diamond on the Blue Ridge Parkway” was one of 56 images selected as finalists and displayed at the Turchin Center for the Visual Arts at Appalachian State University in Boone. On April 20, it was announced that Ramsey’s image had won Best in Show. “Scott’s image was very strong technically and the final print quality was stunning,” says Rich Campbell, competition director. “Shooting in that type of light is not easy to pull off.” But what really convinced the judges to award Ramsey Best in Show was the feeling that the image invoked. “You really got the feeling that you were standing on the Blue Ridge Parkway during the actual eclipse,” says Campbell. “The light, which is very eerie during an eclipse, was stunningly reproduced in Scott’s image. We had other shots of the eclipse in our competition, but Scott’s was the one that made you feel like you were standing in the midst of the eclipse itself.”
Ramsey, who began approaching photography as an art form in 2014, says landscapes and the night sky are his favorite subjects. “I love a quote by Carl Sagan where he referred to the earth as a ‘mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam,’” he says. “It kind of makes you feel insignificant in the grand scheme of the universe, but it also makes me feel that we are all connected with everything else that might be out there.”
After winning the competition, Ramsey donated a framed and signed limited edition image to the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation to be auctioned at its annual Denim Ball fundraiser on Friday, August 3, in Blowing Rock. He also donated 100 smaller, unframed prints to be given away to contributors in the Foundation’s fall fundraising efforts. “Winning this contest was a great honor since there are many talented photographers competing,” he says. “I am extremely humbled by the recognition.”
For more information about Ramsey’s work, visit scottramsey.photography.