The 1 Percenters

We’ve all heard about the 1 percenters, usually in a less than flattering way.  The richest 1% hold 50% of the world’s wealth, and most have no interest in sharing it. Greedy bastards. But let’s be honest, wouldn’t you like to be part of the 1 percent, even for a day? I had that chance, last Monday.

Ok, ok, the one percent I was part of has absolutely nothing to do with money.  For me, it was a different sort of wealth – a chance to experience a rare solar eclipse. My home, while not in the path of totality, was close enough for the sun to be eclipsed at a factor of 99% during the peak, leaving me to experience what the world would be like if we only received 1% of the sun’s light.

Sure, I could have experienced 100% totality by driving 50-60 miles south, but all the civil and media folks were making like it would be a traffic Armageddon; once you enter you’d be trapped in traffic hell with little hope of escaping for a day or two. As usual, in this mass media age, hyperbole ramped up the fear factor beyond reality. We opted to stay home.  I should have gone with my gut: leave very early in the morning, take in the eclipse, and hang out enjoying the area I landed in until late in the day. I would have escaped the worst of it.

We fell short too, on the eclipse glasses front – none were to be found. Until the last minute, I figured I’d need to create a pinhole camera. Then, while on a camping trip shortly before the big day a buddy trotted out a gizmo with a tripod, a set of binoculars, and a white piece of paper – a whole new take on a pinhole camera.  I figured that’s kinda cool, I will have to try that.

My Eclipse Projector
With a white paper bag for a screen

Shortly before the eclipse began my wife and I hoofed it down to the local park, the gizmo in one hand and a picnic blanket in the other. We set up on the infield of the softball diamond, pointed the gizmo at the sun, and waited for whatever version of the “experience of the century” we were due to receive.

The Eclipse begins – 55 minutes to Peak

We soon discovered the projection showed not just growing obstruction of the sun, but a hidden alien looking askance at us. Or perhaps it’s WALL-E, coming back to visit.

12 minutes to Peak

One quirk of the gizmo; as the binoculars has two barrels, we got to see two eclipses. How many other folks do you know that got a twofer on the eclipse?

As the moment of truth grew closer, we noted a distinct chill in the air. The temperature must have dropped 5 or 10 degrees between the time the eclipse began and its peak obstruction.

The light, on the other hand, didn’t drop that much. It was clearly dimming, but there was no shortage of light even at zero hour. That 1% is loaded.

The color of the light was odd. Although we were out in the open, the light took on a bluish cast. As a photographer I should have expected that; shadows add a blue tint and we were in the worlds biggest version of open shade.

10 minutes to peak, and plenty of light.

The clock rolled on and so did the eclipse.  The big moment arrived.

Peak eclipse with the 1%

It must have been dark enough for the alien, it looks like he’s having a snooze.

After the peak minutes, folks began to leave the park as if the show was over. I understand that was the case all over, triggering that forecasted traffic hell.  Did everyone think they would beat the traffic? Wouldn’t it be more fun to find local adventure than sit in traffic for hours?

Even though traffic was not a factor for us, we stuck around and watched more of the show, as the sun gradually reclaimed its dominant place in the sky.

Peak plus 20 minutes

The alien woke up. Realizing it had been noticed, it played coy.

The gizmo was cool, but it wasn’t the only show. At the last minute, while I was off camping in the wilds (future story there), the wife scored a pair of eclipse glasses from a sibling. We shared that too, and it wasn’t long before I realized I could put it partially in front of my camera lens.

It ain’t pretty, but it works!

A timely tutorial from a photo editing source I follow showed me a way to create a composite image from multiple eclipse photos.  I cropped my ugly eclipse pics, cleaned them up, combined them, and came up with this.

Eclipse Composite-8-12
Ad hoc time lapse of the eclipse.
Intervals in minutes before/after peak: -56, -38, -29, -14,-5, 0, +3, +13, +22

This was entirely unplanned. There’s little rhyme or reason to the intervals.  I was using my tripod for the gizmo, so the angle I shot each picture at was different – I took a guess at adjusting them in the composite. Pressing the eclipse glasses against the lens tended to push it in, changing the zoom and focal length, so I had to tweak size on some of the shots too. It’s a sloppy job, but I like it.

You may wonder why the zero hour crescent has a different aspect.  In the editor, while trying to adjust the angle, I noticed it wasn’t oriented on the same plane as all the others. This is the 1%, uncovered, sneaking out the side.

So now you too, for a moment, have joined those of us basking in the 1% – I hope you enjoyed the riches.

51 thoughts on “The 1 Percenters

  1. J.D. Riso

    I’m impressed by the gizmo, Dave. I watched the eclipse on TV (we only had a whisper of it here in France) and when the camera did a crowd shot, I noticed that people were folding up their blankies and taking off, just seconds after totality. It was still dark, for crying out loud. I just shook my head.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Very successful, Dave. But so interesting the observations on your fellow observers. I guess it is a reflection on what we are all like today – as soon as the eclipse passes its peak, everyone rushes off to do something else. Probably to look at pictures of the eclipse on Facebook or, more likely, just tell everyone they saw it.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. We were with friends on top of a hill in N.C. and as soon as the total eclipse finished – with more partial eclipse to come, the traffic began to roar on the road below us. As we were in the Smokies, we worried cloud cover might spoil it. But the sky was clear — until about 15 minutes after the total part was done and then clouds moved in to remind us of how lucky we were. However, I did not have the camera or your ingenuity to get good photos.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Nice that nature cooperated with you for that critical 15 minutes. We had cloudy mornings the days before and after, but on the day it was completely clear.
      The camera wasn’t a big factor, but I couldn’t have done the featured composite picture without decent photo editing software.


  4. pinklightsabre

    What a super account! So sorry you didn’t have glasses (we had extra!) but your gizmo is totally cool, there. I relate to the temperature dropping as you described. Sounds like you regret not going for the 100%, though. Next time? 🙂 You took a lot of time putting this together and it’s the best eclipse account I’ve seen — thank you. Going to share with my MIL who was describing similar binocular method. Bill

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Great composite! Like you, I wish I’d followed my gut and driven the one hour to Salem. I should know by now how overstated the media hype usually is!

    Still, it was an experience to remember, that’s for sure. Even with 1% of the sun left.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I was only in the 15%-ers, but it was still pretty cool; I just couldn’t travel any farther that particular day (note to self to be more careful about appointments in 2024!). My son camped out in a field in Wyoming and got to experience the whole shebang and said it was amazing. I think you did a great job with the gizmo and the time-lapse composite!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. For ad hoc, it turned out pretty well. I suppose I would have planned better if I’d have opted to travel to the totality. Given your penchant for travel, I’m surprised you didn’t plan for it and experience it with your son.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. After growing up in Minnesota, I’ve sworn off below zero for life and prefer my snow in small doses – Mt. Hood does nicely. But I’ve always thought it would be cool to visit the other Portland.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. I absolutely loved this post, Dave! 🙂 As a kid, I remember our failed attempt at viewing a total solar eclipse. I distinctly remember my dad’s excitement and our disappointment. I haven’t been fortunate to be present at the right time or right place to view another event like that. In 1997, I was lucky with spotting Comet Hale–Bopp. We could see it everyday and I was so excited. We’re just back from Mongolia and for the first time we saw the Milky Way! Whilst Basil struggled with his camera settings, I remembered your post, ‘Visiting a Saint’. Makes me appreciate your photography all the more! You couldn’t have said it better. Viewing these glorious celestial events can only make our life experiences more richer.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The last time we had an eclipse around here (partial, I think) was the late 70’s. Being pre-internet/24 hour media the hype wasn’t quite what it was this time around. Being winter in the Pacific Northwest it was overcast, so the big experience was little more than a slight diming of the lights on the way to the bus stop. This one was a bit more interesting.

      Liked by 1 person

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