Originally posted on Facebook, August 21, 2017.
I was in the Auxvasse Cemetery, in Auxvasse, Missouri. My experience today was quite literally colored by the clouds. As the eclipse approached so did a storm.
The first 50 or even 75% of the eclipse I don’t feel that the amount of light really changed. If I didn’t know it was happening I don’t think I would have noticed. Part of that may be because of the clouds that were coming in and we’re used to clouds causing less light.
As the eclipse approached 85-90% it did start to darken noticeably and very quickly. There are stories of battles in the ancient world that are stopped by eclipses. I can really see how that could happen now. As the eclipse begins everything seems normal, but you reach that point where it’s just too dark and you can see the sun is just a sliver of light in the sky.
For me, totality wasn’t the part that was most thought provoking. Maybe it was because of the clouds, where I couldn’t see the full effect of the black disc where the sun should be. I mean, I saw the moon blot out the sun, I saw the corona, I saw the edges of the sun just before and after totality. But it all had this fuzz of cloud over it. You know how on some days it’s overcast but at the perfect thickness where you can look directly at the sun and see that it’s round? It felt sort of like that. I wasn’t looking into black nothingness like I would have been if the sky were clear.
But, I think that gave me something that I wouldn’t have seen with clear skies. Right at the end of totality I didn’t see the white light of the sun. I saw reds, and blues, and purples as the sun re-emerged. Normally I’d think these colors in a photo would be the result of chromatic aberration, the limits of physics and the way camera lenses bend light. But I saw these colors with my own eyes. I think it was the clouds. The clouds, the little water droplets, were bending the light. I didn’t get a clear view of the sun, but I still saw something amazing.
There was one aspect that was very otherworldly. As totality approached it got dark, twilight is how everyone describes it. I could still see everything around me, still able to see across the cemetery, my phone, the controls on my camera. It wasn’t the amount of light that was weird, it was the direction. You see every other day that I’ve been alive, when it gets that dark the light is always coming from the side. Twilight, sunrise and sunset. But today the light was from overhead. It’s not an earth shattering, change my life revelation, but it is a very strange feeling to have a physical experience that contradicts every other experience you’ve had up to that point.
I saw the sun disappear and it was amazing.
The image is a composite combining a shot from today with one I shot 2 weeks ago.