By now, two days after the solar eclipse, I have seen so many gorgeous photos on FaceBook, TV and the Internet, I am feeling total syzygy. That’s a new word for me. I like it. Syzygy…the alignment of three celestial objects.
May I please be a celestial object?
I have some photographer friends who went to great lengths to make exquisite documentations of the solar eclipse. Their imagery is breathtaking. Their preparation, noteworthy. Their dedication, admirable.
Me…on the other hand? I was mostly in it for the picnic lunch date on top of my favorite nearby mountain. Recluse Man and I hadn’t even bothered to round up some Eclipse 2017 glasses. We just wanted ‘the experience.’ While making lunch I thought; well what the heck, maybe I can get some kind of depiction of the eclipse. We were not in the ‘total’ zone but not that far away either.
I packed my cameras and tripod with lunch. This favorite mountain of mine has a bald top and is truly stunning with a 360º perspective on the world below. Very quiet up there. Very solitary. Very magical. In maybe a dozen visits, I have only encountered a young couple once at daybreak and they skedaddled in such a hurry when I showed up it made me wonder. Am I that scary with yesterday’s clothes and bed-head-hair? or…hmmm…what were they up to?
When we arrived, after passing through three gates and navigating some very rough terrain to drive to the top, (I usually hike the last steep stretch), much to my horror there were ten ATVs and a truck parked at the very spot I thought of as mine-all-mine. Sheeeeit. Music blasting. People everywhere. Not a private spot around.
I scouted a good rock and proceeded to boss Recluse Man around since he would be doing the actual shooting. “Get a great silhouette…are my hands reaching for the sun? DON”T LOOK AT THE SUN!…LOOK AT THE ROCK!…got it?…lemme see!”…and on and on as we passed the camera back and forth so I could check exposures and composition.
It got a little dark. Like a thunder cloud had passed overhead. I looked for nocturnal animals to rise from their daybeds. Nothing. I looked to my dogs to see if they would howl at the moon. Nothing. I looked at my skin waiting for goosebumps. Nothing.
Then I checked my watch. Two minutes after the full effect of the eclipse had passed. It would have been a letdown had I not been so into making photos. Oh wait a minute. Recluse Man was the one making photos…I was just posing like a bossy diva in baggy shorts. Is there such a thing?
We had our lunch afterward as the ATVs rambled around. It was anything but a sexy lunch date. I had a commitment in Virginia so we didn’t stay long, and of course the ATVs pulled out right as we did.
I got home about 8pm eclipse night and looked at the photos. Big yawn. Small Diet Coke. Wake up. Engage brain hidden behind penumbra.
And then it got crazy. Goosebump crazy. I started messing around and didn’t stop messing until 1am. Unheard of…that kind of bedtime for a farm chick. Could blame it on the Diet Coke but I was having a Celestial Experience of my very own making. I was orbiting in galactic adventures having stellar vibes and feeling COSMIC BABY COSMIC!!! Do you read me? OVER!
For the inquisitive technical minds, I started with my RAW images and either moved the temperature slider all the way blue or yellow, depending on what I had in mind. I adjusted the exposure and blacks and shadows to mostly get a silhouette, which made it easy to keep as much solar definition as I could. I’d open the image in Photoshop to tweak local areas, and then for many of the following I used textured backgrounds in ON1, or vignettes, cross-processing, glows and grunge filters; a whole variety of effects, either in ON1, Photoshop or Nik filters.
Often, as you will see, I tried different effects on the same image and had a tough time deciding which version I liked best. You decide.
At times I was breathless. Seriously. Totally. My brain felt eclipsed.
Presenting…Tah Dah (drum roll)…Eclipse Photos (not really)….
I can’t wait till 2024. Surely Recluse Man and I will have our eclipse glasses by then. Can’t forget the pig, the dogs, the horses…can forget the cats for sure…lazy critters snoozing all day. Might have a unicorn by then. Better get on it.