What better way to rev up the ol' blog than to revisit one of my favorite days this year....August 21st, 2017, the day of the first total solar eclipse to happen in almost 40 years. I didn't plan for it much ahead of time, but when we got about 30 days from the date I started to look at shooting it seriously and purchased a solar filter that arrived about two weeks before the event. After a couple of practice runs in the backyard, I felt like I had a good game plan to shoot it. I would travel almost straight north of my location about five hours away and shoot it outside of the small town of Geneva in southern Nebraska.
As the day approached the forecast models were calling for heavy cloud cover with breaks in the clouds here and there, so the risk was high if I was to leave early on the morning of the 21st. It would be very possible to make the drive only to find an overcast sky waiting on me and there would be no time to adjust. At the last minute on the evening before, I made the decision to take off and get to my location the night before so I could adjust if needed. I ended up driving a bit further north and stayed the night in York, Nebraska. From there I would wake up super early and adjust to my next location if need be.
Around 3 a.m. I woke up excited and worried to see what the forecast would look like. Sure enough, a low pressure system would bring cloud cover into my area and I couldn't risk sitting there until sunrise, because the eclipse was to begin at 11:30 that morning and if I waited too long I might not see it at all. I started to venture west on the back highways along the total eclipse path, ready to end up 5 hours west if need be, but hoping to stop well before then. As I made my way west and the sky began to light up after sunrise I realized I made the correct choice. After three hours of driving west there were some clouds in the sky, but it was 90% clear.
I ended up near the small town of Arnold, Nebraska, nestled in a valley at the southern edge of the Sand Hills. It was about 8:30 a.m. when I arrived (I took the trip fairly slow, stopping along the way) but the valley was full of morning fog. I figured it would burn off, but it was really slow about doing it and it got to be around 10:30 a.m. and it was concerning me that it might stick around to impede visibility.
I stuck around in the spot I chose, which was an off the beaten path pasture along a lonely country road, and got my equipment ready to go and did a couple of practice shots. But still, the fog and low cloud cover persisted. I finally decided to make my way out of the valley to a higher area a couple of miles to the south. It would shorten my time in totality by seconds but that makes all the difference in the world when you have a limited amount of time to capture something that won't come around again in another 8 years or so. Along the way I was lucky enough to capture a beautiful scene where pink wildflowers had overgrown a pond, so I had to stop for that.
Finally I found a good spot to shoot the eclipse. There would be no foreground subject for the photos on this trip, only the sun and moon and whatever dazzling display it might put on. I spent a good hour sitting there as the sun got higher in the sky and the temperature rose. It eventually made it up to 95 degrees, which for an Oklahoma boy like me isn't terrible but still on the toasty side for my tastes.
After about 30 minutes of waiting, the funniest thing happened. A car with four people stopped at my little turnoff along the highway and a man got out and walked my way. Seeing him coming I stepped out of the vehicle ready to give directions or talk about whatever he might want, as this happens many times during a stormy day and I'm out chasing. He told me he was with the AP news service and was doing stories on the eclipse, and wanted to know if I had time for an interview. Of course I did, because other than sitting there what else would I be doing while I wait?
Hours after the eclipse I found out that he had indeed written up a little blurb on my adventure and it had been picked up nationally.
Finally, it was time for the show to begin, just after 11:30 a.m. and it didn't disappoint. The best way to describe it is with the photos themselves, so without further ado here's how it unfolded in picture form.
Such an awesome day for such little anticipation on my part. I was captivated by the mid-day darkness and how the bugs were even fooled as they showed up out of nowhere. It was everything the hype made it out to be, which is a rare thing these days but for this one moment it lived up to it.
"Totality" and "Diamond Ring" are available for purchase both as a print or canvas.
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