I made the effort to see the solar eclipse of 21 April 2017 in totality. It was a singular event that I had to witness first hand if I could possibly help it.
Images and stories told of previous eclipses, revealing their magic. The emphasized corolla around the sun’s perimeter was awesome. Tales of the darkness, wind, and freaking out animals added some mysterious vibes. Google searches revealed some pretty graphic images that looked amazing.
But they weren’t the real thing.
In 1999 I experienced a total eclipse in Germany. I was in the path of totality, gazing skyward with thousands of people. Heavy clouds and sputtering rain dampened the experience, but I still FELT it. For 2 minutes the sky went black and the world turned inside out. It was awesome.
Fast forward to 2017. I am one state away from the path of totality. I must try again.
I am a photographer. I looked into the techniques for photographing the eclipse – specialized optics and equipment would make it manageable. With some practice I could pull it off.
Putting on my Dad hat changed the narrative. I was traveling with my young daughters to a beautiful small town to witness a lifetime event for 106 seconds. I wanted to witness this spectacle that I missed out on 18 years ago, and I wanted to see the reactions of my daughters.
The weather turned out perfectly this time. My girls and I watched through our glasses as the moon obscured the sun. The sky grew grey, like it was going to rain. A breeze picked up along the harbor. People freaked out as the last sliver of sunlight began to form, and Bailey’s Beads appeared (with the moon at 99% coverage, a few rays of sunlight shine through the mountains on the moon).
The sky grew dark as the moon fully covered the sun. I removed my glasses to see a perfect eclipse – just like the photos – only better. The craters on the moon glowed softly in front of the brilliant aura spinning around the perimeter of the covered sun. I felt my heart leap unexpectedly as I gazed in disbelief. This experience was much more powerful than seeing it online!
Sharing it with my girls was even more special, so I took a single photo – a selfie.
Yes, this photographer planned a trip to the total solar eclipse and came away with a single “selfie” snapshot. My uncle would be very proud to know that his advice was heeded and understood. He told me long ago to put the camera down and make sure I fully embraced the moment.
This week’s photo nods to that advice, although the camera plays a part. “Lobster Boat at Sunrise” represents my immersion in a scene and a rapid change of plans.
The dark morning air is cool and still. My headlamp illuminates the trees on the other side of the clearing – no fog today. Grabbing a few muffins I head for Park Loop Road and Boulder Beach. Sunrises in Acadia National Park are not to be missed.
A band of colorful tones appears on the horizon as I set up my tripod. I’m liking my composition – round boulders in the foreground contrasting the angular Otter Cliffs. Warm sunlight will soon pour over the horizon to wash the scene in rich orange light.
The hairs on my neck suddenly spring to life. I hear a deep growl behind me. I stop chewing and hold my breath to keep still. I look down to see how many crumbs I am wearing.
A moment of silence is followed by another grumble. A third growl becomes more steady as a lobster boat becomes visible off shore. Following it with my eyes I notice that it is headed for the sun that has cleared the horizon. Pivoting my tripod I quickly compose and fire a single shot, catching the boat silhouetted against the colorful sky.
My spine still tingles a bit when I see this image. I am reminded that powerful images are often captured in a different fashion than originally planned. Keeping my eyes (and ears) open allows me to adjust to meet the opportunity!
Thank you for reading along and sharing this moment with me. I hope you enjoy the last bit of summer and jump into fall! As always, I’d love to hear from you. Please drop a comment below!
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