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