Long time, no Steve!

Yes, it has been a while! I miss my writing! I’m sure you have, too. 😉
I think the last time I wrote anything, I was talking about the July First Friday and the gallery scene in Downtown Knoxville. I mentioned that I had three pictures in the Knoxville Photo 2017 exhibit at the Emporium. Well, I’m happy to report that two of my three photos won the best of their category! That was pretty cool! The winning images were the B&W close-up of the flower entitled “Platinum Trillium,” in the category of Still Life, and the color image entitled, “So They Marched,” in the category of Travel. What is really rewarding to me personally is that I never consider myself to be a photographer in these genres. Hmmm, maybe I should consider branching out! If you missed it, check it out here: Knoxville Photo 2017.
This Saturday is the big workshop for me at UT. It is about photographing the upcoming solar eclipse and about 40 people have signed up. That is really exciting and I’ve been working my tail off to get ready so I can help the attendees understand and photograph the eclipse, which promises to be a once-in-a-lifetime event! It is also an opportunity for me to share a little science with people. I can’t help it. Fundamentally, I’m a science nerd and this is a great chance for me to share a little of that enthusiasm with others. In a very entertaining way, of course! So wish me luck!
Speaking of the eclipse, what are your plans? In case you don’t know, a total eclipse of the sun will occur across the US on August 21. The path of totality will begin on the coast of Oregon and stretch across the country to the coast of South Carolina. You might call this the “sea to shining sea” eclipse! During the eclipse, the moon will pass in front of the sun and block out face of the solar disk for up to 2 minutes and 40 seconds. This is really exciting since total eclipses don’t occur in the US that often. The last one like this was 99 years ago.
So, get out and see it! Here are some ideas for you to consider.
1. See it! You must be in the path of totality to see the full Monty. Find a place in the path and start making your plans now. You won’t be able to book a hotel in the path, but don’t let that stop you. Get in the path of totality! There is no such thing as almost totality. You are either in the path and you’ll see a total eclipse, or you won’t. There is no such thing as almost totality! Download an app called “Totality” from Big Kid Science. It is totally free and a great tool to help determine if a location is in the path of totality and for how long.
2. Get some solar viewing glasses so you can view the sun safely during partial phases before and after totality. This is really important. Good quality, ISO-certified glasses are cheap. Get some! You’ll need them to view the sun at all times, except during totality. BTW, everyone in the US has the opportunity to see a partial eclipse. You don’t even need Amazon, the local Lowe’s store recently had a display with glasses, maps, etc. for sell. Nothing expensive.
3. Better yet, get some solar viewing filters that will mount on to the front of your binoculars. This way, you can see the partial phases clearly before and after totality. But do some research on this to make sure you are safe. This is a no brainer if you do it safely, but don’t even think about it if you don’t do some research and planning beforehand. Do it right or don’t do it. Seymour Solar sells great filters for binoculars. I have a pair. Love them.
4. Best yet, take some pictures. Yay! During totality, you can safely view the sun and its amazing corona without filters. In fact you’ll know it is totality when you can’t see anything through your solar viewing glasses and won’t have any choice but to take them off. The sun will be really high in the sky during totality, so be prepared to take some vertical panoramas with the camera on your smart phone. These will be awesome. Trust me, I’m working like crazy with telescopes and automatic cameras and all sorts of technology. In the end, I bet the panos I take with my iPhone will be my favorite images. Never taken a vertical pano with a smart phone? Google it. Learn. It will be worth it! Really into photography? Get a copy of Alan Dyer’s book on photographing the eclipse. Or, take my workshop this Saturday. 😉
5. Finally, see it! Oh, did I already mention that? It bears repeating. When I was a kid, I remember living on the farm during a partial eclipse in the early 1970s. It was a big deal to me, right up there with the Apollo space missions, Comet Kohoutek, and Brazil winning the Miss Universe pageant in the 1969. But, as cool as the partial eclipse was, it wasn’t total. It was only partial. It was nothing compared to totality. And the thought of finding and going to the path of totality never even occurred to me in the 70s. Heck, back then, going to Indiana to get saw dust for bedding the pigs was a big deal. 😉 So, my message today: see the eclipse! Going to Indiana to get saw dust is not a big deal, being in the path of totality is! See it!
Good luck with your plans on August 21. Until then, enjoy this picture of the moon I recently took while practicing for the eclipse. I know, who would take pictures of the moon to practice for the sun?? It actually makes sense when you think about it. Cheers!
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