Photographing Once in a Lifetime Events
Last week I was out with Gabe Biderman from National Parks at Night and a group of classmates photographing the Total Solar Eclipse.
Before the event I probably didn’t spend as much energy as my classmates trying to figure out the right exposures, I planned on seeing what the meter said and using that. Instead I just bracketed and figured I could pick the part of the experience I was interested in.
Here I was interested in the Solar Prominences. What appears to be small spots of red, are 10-100 times the size of the earth if you want to put into perspective. This was one of my shorter exposures, 1/8000 of a second. It separated the prominences from the corona. I know that others were bracketing since they wanted to show more of the corona.
I’m watching a class from David Hobby, and one of sections of his course is “Why do you take Pictures?” In this case it’s to savor and share the experience. From a scientific point of view, the folks at NASA were able to glean much more data from their jets in the stratosphere taking pictures of the eclipse. For me, I will be able to look at these pictures and recall the emotions and this scene for the rest of my life. Having seen a partial eclipse in Chicago in the 60s, I had seen the moon obscuring parts of the sun. But a total eclipse shows so much more. As one of my friends says, watching a total eclipse will change your life. I don’t know if it will change my life, but I feel much richer for having seen it.
I will say that it was the shortest two minutes I’ve spent lately. It reminds me of the days when I taking pictures of Space Shuttle launches, you end up spending your time dealing with the mechanics of documenting the event.