Few things have grabbed column inches and blog space like the upcoming solar eclipse. It’s everywhere and on the lips of everyone, but for good reason. What we here in the United States are being treated to will be a total solar eclipse, the likes of which hasn’t occurred in nearly 40 years, so the likelihood is, you’ve never seen one, and if not this time you may only get one more chance, if that. That’s perhaps the reason people all over the country and beyond are traveling to the best spots to see it, and then understandably why photographers all over are prepping to shoot it. But, while it’s historic and you may never get another chance to photograph one, maybe, just maybe, don’t.
[REWIND: CHRIS HADFIELD ON SHOOTING & THE IMPORTANCE OF YOUR HEARTBEAT]
It was Nixon (surprisingly) who delivered in a speech in the early 70s that the Space Shuttle would effectively be the instrument that bridged the intangible vastness of space for Earth’s ‘advanced breed of primates,’ as Stephen Hawking would say; That it would make the ‘final frontier’ familiar territory, rather accessible to even humans who weren’t all vetted and dedicated NASA employees with IQs higher than Everest, and balls the size of Bournemouth.
He inferred that, relatively soon, even your average neighbor would be commuting into the inky blackness of space as they would a honeymoon to Aruba. But, as was more typical of Nixon, he was wrong. Space has still remained largely a mystery and something entirely alien and intangible to the average person. An eclipse can make you feel much more part of that ‘space’, so perhaps the reason to see an eclipse is not, as the video here says, that it’s rare, is because of how it makes you feel.
When the eclipse happens you can expect the temperature to drop, and the transition from day to the look of night to take seconds instead of hours, then the stars may be temporarily visible and you may feel in touch with the cosmos. As photographers we are always inclined to record the novel, but that often means we don’t experience it. So, maybe consider putting the camera down and letting the moment blow your mind. And in any case, someone else is going to refuse to let the moment pass without shooting it and you can always look at those shots after – and without fear of damaging your sensor. I’m pretty sure every camera rental company is crapping themselves at the thought of potential sensor damage…