April 15, 2024

Hello friends! I am slowly getting back into action after our house move. The past months were very hectic, but we have made it to the other side and are hoping for a peaceful summer with lots of bikerides and other fun activities. My studio is set up, but I am not yet ready to go, although ideas are bubbling galore inside of my head… My shoulder took a bit of a hit what with all the lugging and lifting, so it needs a bit of rest. During the move I realised how many framed paintings I have. Three SUV loads full! And that is just the framed work! Most of them are for sale, so if you like my work and would like one of my pieces on your wall (photograph or painting), do contact me and choose what speaks to you most!

Our move was underlined with a special event put on by mother nature: the total eclipse of the sun. I know that it has been talked to death by now, but I still want to share some of the images with you. It was quite the phenomenon to experience. Seven years ago I photographed a partial eclipse and that was very different. It happened in the middle of summer, and the Toronto area lucked out on totality. But it was still interesting. I did not manage to get a proper solar filter at the time, but worked with a welding glass. I attached it to the front of the lens with rubber bands, put the camera on interval shooting and hoped for the best. The image below shows what I saw and later merged into one image. The sun was super bright, and it was not possible to get any kind of definition of its surface. The cameras I used got quite hot as well, as they were pointed at the sun for a good hour.

Here was the full sequence…
And this shows what actually happens. The moon moving over the sun, but not entirely. Some 2000 kilometres south of this spot, there actually was a full eclipse, but lots of people missed because of bad weather. A friend of mine did capture it – see picture below (thanks Bernard for sharing!).

This year, our town was just within the path of totality, so I was quick to order some good filters. But even four months ahead of time that was no easy feat. Several of the online orders were canceled with just 1 month to go and that did not make me happy, to say the least. But I did manage to get the one I wanted and came prepared.

I started out with some test shots to see how the filter behaved and was not disappointed. Below is an image of the sun at mid-day, taken with the filter in place. The fact that there was some wispy cloud made it even more interesting to me.

Because the sun is so bright and the camera is set to expose it correctly, the bright blue sky turns into the darkest of black. It really gives you the impression of being in space…

When April 8 finally arrived, I decided to skip the beaches of Lake Erie, where hundreds of thousands of spectators were expected. Probably mostly, because of the mid-day sunset light that was expected during totality. From what I have read afterwards, getting away from the coast after the event was the traffic nightmare I had anticipated. So I was happy to shoot from our front yard. The first bite out of the sun happened, as predicted, a few minutes after 2pm. The spectacle ended around 4:30pm. The day was beautifully sunny and we had an unobstructed view.

Just in case you are wondering about the gloves: totality can only be photographed without a filter. I did not want sticky fingerprints on the filter after removing it and putting it back on. Gloves were the best solution…

Contrary to 2017, when I had multiple cameras capturing the event and took over 1000 time-lapse photographs (!), I kept it simple this year. One camera body, my mirrorless Fuji, with an old but fine Canon tele-lens on a converter. I took some shots from the moments preceding totality, but my main focus was on that special 1 minute moment when the moon covered the sun completely. Below are some of the 300 images I took.

As the moon covered most of the sun, there was a marked drop in temperature. To the point that I had to put on a warm jacket. The atmosphere around us was… strange! It was getting less bright. I cannot say it got darker right away. It was like standing in an under-exposed photograph. Eerie light… We did not note any strange bird behaviour. Many people drove past without even paying attention. But we did. In totality, the world truly looked like a Mediterranean countryside during dusk. The light was warm and yellow, a hue we normally do not get here in the true North. Blue light is par for the course here and it makes creating photographs often hard. It is one of the reasons I will forever miss Europe – even my country of origin The Netherlands has that warm, yellow-orange light in summer. And I am not even talking about the south of France or Italy…. Ah…. that light has inspired so many artists and it is no wonder.

Back to Canada… The streetlights switched on, ‘thinking’ that evening was approaching. There was a definite orangy tinge in the skies. It truly looked like a scene at sunset. This took not even a minute and then the moon moved our of the way. And before long everything returned to normal. The whole process took around 2 hours. It was awesome and I am glad I took the time to witness it.

Total eclipses are not especially unique: they just usually happen above the ocean, without anyone witnessing it. Let alone photograph it. Which seems impossible, on a moving boat. But it has been done. But this time it traveled over many populated areas, creating a bit of a frenzy to see it. For now, this is etched in my brain and who knows, if the universe gives me 20 more years in good health and with a steady hand, I may be photographing this phenomenon again at age 83! Or else, I will watch it from ‘up there’, with the many friends that have gone there before me…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *