I had a once in a lifetime chance to view to Great American Eclipse of 2017 last month.
I went up to Corvallis, OR to view the eclipse with my parents and uncle. I’ve seen partial eclipses before, so I felt like I knew what to expect.
We rigged up my dad’s old Orion telescope and I quickly learned, with some creative placement, I could actually use my phone to take pictures through it.
Pretty neat, right? You can even make out some pretty major sunspots, which, I am told, are larger than the entire Earth. Since we were looking at it through a Dobsonian telescope, the image was actually mirrored on both axes.
I got a lot better with the telescope/smartphone setup as the eclipse progressed. The skies had noticeably darkened, and the temperature had begun to drop. It was around this time, that some small aircraft painted a contrail right over the eclipse. I was really upset at first, thinking that this plane had ruined our moment, but took the moment to take a portrait of my father. As the old saying goes, when life gives you lemons, take filter-heavy portraits of your father.
The moments leading up to totality were something unlike anything I had ever experienced.
I was told that when it happens, you’ll know.
What I experienced, was exactly that; you just knew.
The sun blinked out, and there were audible gasps and shrieks from the surrounding neighborhood. And there, in the sky, was the magnificent eclipse.
I was staring straight into a black hole.
It was unlike anything I had ever seen. So alien. So unreal. So extraordinary.
They say that your first total eclipse changes you. I consider myself changed. It’s hard to put into words just how the eclipse made me feel, but it certainly was something special.
Early in my photography career, I used to pride myself in taking interesting pictures of uninteresting things. “Anyone can take cool pictures of cool things,” I used to say.
I’ll be the first one to say that I was wrong.
Whenever you take a photograph, you’re not just saving pixels or exposing film, you’re taking a snapshot of your own personal state of being. Anyone can look at the photos posted above and appreciate them, but only I can look at them and recall how I felt while I was taking them.
That’s powerful. That’s extraordinary.
So keep taking pictures.