Thursday, August 24, 2017
REFLECTIONS ON THE SOLAR ECLIPSE
There was a lot of information and hype out there about Monday's Solar Eclipse. I'd read many articles and bought my solar glasses and was ready for the main event. I'd hesitated in buying a solar filter because they were very expensive, over $200, especially with the cloud cover forecast being quite iffy.
I did buy a solar film, however, and fashioned my own filter to protect my lens from sun damage. Once I had it taped over my lens, it was 1 pm and time to go shoot. But it was very frustrating to even FIND the sun with the solar glasses and the solar film, let alone PHOTOGRAPH it. Everything was completely black! My first shots looked like this, clouds and black with no sign of an eclipsing sun.
My first plan alteration was to dispense of the tripod. With the sun nearly overhead, it was difficult to aim the camera towards the right spot with it on the tripod. Hand-holding my camera gave me much greater control of where to aim. Still everything was so dark. So in GREAT frustration, I next tore off my homemade filter. One of the sources I'd read said the need for a solar filter was over hyped. He went on to say how many sunsets he'd photographed without any filter and he'd had no problem. I identified with that opinion. So without a tripod and filter, I easily found the sun and the beginning of its eclipse.
Finally being in business, I was able to see and shoot the sun as it was progressively being eclipsed more and more by the moon. While there was definitely a cloud cover, it was thin enough or opened up enough to view the eclipse.
I still have many questions about the whole photographic process, like why the images are so dark, almost as if I were shooting in black and white, yet I wasn't.
I was also curious why the shape of the sun changed as the it reached the partial totality that we got here in Northern Lower Michigan.
About here, I would say, we'd reached the point where it was as good as it would get in our part of the country. I was surprised at some of the comments I'd read from people who were in the path of totality. "Life-changing." "It was like God saying, Let there be light." "It's like nothing I've ever experienced."
As we began exiting the eclipse, I was glad I had the chance to see it, and photograph it, but more as an interesting natural phenomenon versus the emotional event it was for some folks.
At this point, I stopped photographing the eclipse and just watched it as it ended. I was happy with how my images turned out, but still have questions and lots more to learn. For me, photographing an eclipse was similar to photographing fireworks. It's a long time until you'll get another opportunity for a "do-over."