I am one of many that thought, sure it's pretty neat to see a total eclipse but all this fuss for a couple minutes of darkness can't really be worth all the hype? I get to see 99% from my home. Would the extra 1% (aka totality) really be worth fighting the potential crowds to see? I am here to say, it certainly is not over hyped and immersing yourself in anything less 100% totality is shorting yourself from an experience like nothing else.
In late 2016 I had planned to go watch the eclipse from a friends property in the John Day area. For various reasons we cancelled those plans. I had decided we would stay back and watch it in town to avoid the rumored crazy crowds that would come along with an event like this.
Eventually the Friday before the eclipse I decided on traveling near the center of totality with one of my daughter's to watch it with her and my mom. My wife and other daughter chose to stay behind. This would not be a photography trip as I did not order solar filters or rent a long lens. The main focus was solely to experience this rare event with my daughter.
In hind sight it's hard to believe I was debating with myself to go about 50 miles regardless how crazy traffic would be. It was not crazy at all. Even if it was insane traffic it's worth it. That says a lot from someone's like me that can get in a sour mood from bad traffic. The return drive went by with a blink of the eye as I was on my eclipse high.
I snapped a few pics with a short telephoto on whatever settings I had it on when totality came. This one of them showing the sun flares. The iPhone photos are of my daughter watching the eclipse and partial eclipse showing on the ground through the trees.
Back to the eclipse. As the sun moved to the end of the diamond ring and a second or two before totality, I saw what looked like sparkling glitter in the circle of the moon. I assume it's space dust reflecting from the light but can't find anything online about it. I thought it was just me yet my daughter said she saw it too. Sparkles in the sky!
If you can't be awe struck by an event like this then I have to wonder if much in our natural world can impress you in any way. I have seen some amazing scenes as someone that loves the outdoors and nature photography. I really thought it would be another one of those moments of simply a nice yet memorable sunset or sunrise. It's much much more than that and I see now why there are those out there seeking this unique event wherever it may occur on our planet. Before witnessing one that would have seemed crazy talk to me.
No photos or videos no matter how amazing, and there are some amazing ones out there, can replace being their in person. It's truly an all senses event where you can feel the air get cooler and smell the changes going on around you. What you see is the biggest part yet to me it's the full experience impacting all my senses that you have to be there in the flesh to experience. If it's not on your bucket list then it should be. You won't be sorry. You owe it yourself.
One minute timelapse covering about an hour showing my daughter and I watching the eclipse in various ways from glasses to pinhole box to shadows from our hands.
I did see the solar eclipse of 1979 according to my mother. Unfortunately I was a diaper sporting toddler. A few years too young to remember it. On the other hand my daughter was ten when she saw this one. She mentioned something about it almost ever day the first week afterward because it was such a memorable experience for her. Guaranteed this is a memory implanted for life, for both of us. It may sound cliche yet it's truly priceless.
As someone that has been listening to Pink Floyd since I was a young teenager I have always said I would try to see one of their shows. I missed their final tour in the 1990's so when I had the chance to see Roger Waters only a couple months back I jumped on it. He played many songs from the album Dark Side of the Moon, my favorite. The show lived up to all of my expectations and then some. He even played the song Eclipse which is quite fitting. Despite how amazing it was I almost feel like the actual eclipse, eclipsed the show.
A video showing how dark it got. Mostly background music yet I do cut out a few times so you can hear my daughter. Including her comment "I will remember this forever".
I took very few photos but did set up a couple cameras to do video and timelapes. Honestly when I look back at this event 10 or 20 years from now it's the video and timelapse of us enjoying the experience that will mean more to me than any photo of just the sun and moon. Maybe when I see the next one I will feel more inspired photography wise. For now I will continue to enjoy the amazing feeling seeing this natural phenomenon unfold before my eyes. The emotional buzz after seeing it reminds us what is most important in life, and it's not material things. It's family, friends and experiences.
Our whole family will be at the one in 2024. Less than seven years is a short time away. I know it will be well worth it despite the cost, effort and travel distance being significant compared to the one this year unfolding pretty much in our back yard. I hope to see you there!