August 21st will be a day I will never forget. I had the privilege of witnessing a total eclipse with two of my favorite photographer friends, R.L. Dietz and Craig Sweat. R.L. is an astro photographer I have known since 1989 and he had spent the last 30 years waiting for this event and Craig is a commercial photographer whose kindness and intellect never cease to impress me.
R.L. convinced Craig and I to drive down to Oregon and join him in a campsite in a beautiful meadow in the Mahleur national forest the night before the eclipse. It took 5 hours to get there and 12 to get back! It was worth it.
R.L. set up a couple of telescopes with tracking motors and I got to attach my camera with one of them. His knowledge and expertise of astronomy made this image possible.
While I was waiting for the event to start I noticed mountain bluebirds flying around everywhere. Bird photography and astro photography are two types of imagery I tend to avoid. I don't bother photographing these subjects because I can't see where I can contribute anything new to the volumes of images that already exist. However, since I was experimenting with a 500 mm lens and looking at the birds I went ahead and made a few shots. Then R.L. helped me get my camera attached to his telescope to get ready for the big event.
For two hours I made intermittent photographs of the eclipse leading up to totality. When the moon finally passed completely in front of the sun it was an awe inspiring moment. I almost forgot to make any photographs! The experience left me disoriented and bewildered. After more than 30 years of listening to R.L. stories about astro photography I finally understood what drove his passion.
On the long drive home I thought about what I could do to make something that would express the magic that I felt at the moment the moon blocked out the sun and turned day into night. I had never seen any other star but the sun during the daytime. Since I teach photography I mentally went through the lessons I give about creativity and composition and how I always try to create a relationship between elements. As I pondered the problem of composing an image of an eclipse that wouldn't look just like the other millions of photos taken in the zone of totality I realized that I had all the elements I needed to personalize this event for me. I imagined in my mind the possibility of combining the birds that were there in the meadow with the solar eclipse.
This image represents my experiences on that miraculous moment and is my attempt at contributing something personal to library of images that documented this historic event.