Eclipse Surfacing

Surface detail of an iceburg in rural Iceland.

In case you had not heard the news, there’s going to be a total eclipse of the sun. At first, I was not enamored with this event. I mean, yes sure, it’s a total eclipse of the sun and, frankly, they don’t come around too often, but honestly these things don’t grab me too much as a photographer. Initially, there’s just not a heck of a lot I felt like doing with the subject. Now, as it’s getting closer, I’m starting to realize this total eclipse is shaping up to be more than just an eclipse. More than just an opportunity to view the bright light of the sun in the middle of the day. No, it’s shaping up to be a moment. You know what I’m talking about here. An event that’s bigger than any one of us. That kind of a moment.

I’m too young to remember, but I do recall hearing about the Kennedy assassination. That was one of those moments too. Everybody who lived through it recalls where they were, what they were doing at exactly the instant it happened. It was a moment in history. A placeholder, a mile marker if you will excuse the mixed metaphor, along the times of our lives. There have been other moments such as these in my lifetime too. One of my earliest memories, in fact probably my earliest memory, is of the men landing on the moon. I remember it well, even though I was a very young child. Now, my memories are not vivid, they pop in and out. It’s just at the end of my ability to remember anything at all in fact, but I do recall the men landing on the moon. What a strange trip, what a strange time. Men on the moon, who could have imagined it, right?

Now, I don’t think this solar eclipse will be quite as memorable as either of these events. No, Kennedy and the moon landing were pretty stand out as far as memories go, but I do think this solar eclipse is going to bring us together in ways other events have not. There’s sort of a groundswell of feelings, emotions, right now and I do think this will collectively bring us together, if only for a moment, to stop and look up at the sky. I’ve lamented here how it’s a bit melancholy that nobody looks at the night sky or the moon anymore. The space program is not enough to distract us from our cell phones. Sad truth there, but that’s where we are as a people these days. I honestly think the solar eclipse will bring us together, silly little glasses and Quaker Oats boxes in tow, to stare up at the sky and ponder something bigger than all of us. Science, the sun, the universe, it’s all up there, and it’ll all be up there for us to come together and marvel over come Monday, bring your own silly little eyeglasses and such.

You can tell it’s shaping up to be a game changer in a couple of ways. For starters, when I think of the total eclipse, a couple of songs come to mind. There’s that old 80’s song, “Total Eclipse of the Heart.” Bonnie Tyler just announced she’s going to perform the song during this year’s total eclipse of the sun. Anything that has theme music, why, that’s a tell tale sign right there that it’s bigger than you and I. When I think of music for the eclipse, maybe I’m revealing my age here, but I can’t help but think about Carly Simon’s “You’re So Vain.” I’m sure I’m not going to be the only one to gavotte over those lyrics. “Then you flew your Lear jet up to Nova Scotia to see the total eclipse of the sun.” I’m sure Mick Jagger is going to fly someplace to catch a glimpse. If there were any justice in the universe, why, he’s run into Justin Bieber during the trip, right?

If all of this music were not enough, everyplace is selling out of glasses left and right, not to mention I’ve seen countless blog posts, readings, ramblings, and the like telling us how to view the eclipse, telling us how to live stream the eclipse, telling us how to photograph the eclipse, and so on. It’s as if the entire world has just stopped, just long enough, to grab a peek at the sun. Frankly, I must confess, the bug has bitten me too. I want to grab some glasses, maybe take a peek outside, just for a couple of minutes to, you know, forget about life for a while.

A few years ago we had another visible eclipse that I can remember. It was not a total solar eclipse but it was noteworthy. I can recall reading that it was going to happen about four pm in the daytime. I had been busy at work and forgotten about it but, about the slated time, I looked up and was shocked by the lights in the sky. The light had gone all “twinkly” and I could not figure out why. Then, it dawned on me (in this case, probably quite literally) that it was the eclipse. Yes, my photographer friends, it’s true, the light does get really freaky during an eclipse. We should all enjoy it as photographers if for nothing else than that reason alone. Freaky, I tell you. Freakier than Missy Elliott at a furry convention. We’re talking freaky here, ok? I can’t wait to see what it’s going to look like this time around and that right there is probably enough of a reason to get me excited about it, right?

Gavotte on, my friends, the eclipse is upon us.

Until next time…

PS This one from the glacial lagoon up in Iceland. Ah, fond memories of traveling someplace cool.

PPS If you want some of your own freaky little glasses, B&H photo has them but you must hurry. Time is growing short and light is about to freak. Chop chop!

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