When I learned that an eclipse was on the way I put the date in my diary with a view to take some photographs of it. I have witnessed a few eclipses over the years and my first attempts to photograph them were in Canada …needless to say my results were less than exciting but at least the events themselves were memorable….I suppose they always are. This time around I had mixed feelings with memories of poor photographic results and the challenge of protecting my eyes.
It helps to have something which connects the heavenly event to the earth so I decided on Tintern Abbey ( established 1131 AD) near Chepstow. The reasoning was that it was close to Bristol and as a ruin it has witnessed and survived much. I could imagine inhabitants fearing “ the end of the world ” when an eclipse would come and although my photographs show little of Tintern… it turned out to be a great location.
After leaving a slightly cloudy Bristol and driving through some fog I was thrilled to find clear skies and arrived in good time to set up. There were others around with cameras and even a lady with an iPad who asked if she could sit beneath my camera…I suppose she assumed that I had good kit and would get a good shot so she would as well. I used a 300 mm lens and tethered my camera to a laptop so I could make adjustments without looking directly at the sun. As the peak approached so did some clouds which slightly covered the sun and made getting a crisp shot of the sun impossible. On reflection I am thankful that they arrived because in the end they enhanced the event and added to the drama.
Some years ago I had the privilege to meet with and photograph Dr. David Block the eminent astronomer in South Africa…. It was clear from the outset that he was passionate about the heavens and in particularly watching the “birth of stars”. His telescopic photographs that I have seen are extremely beautiful and take my thinking much further than “three score and ten”. The eclipse this time around was equally beautiful and did the same….