22 May 2012
that was fun!
The weekend of May 20th had several things going for it. On a personal level it was the seventh anniversary of my first date with my future wife. Yes the Republic fell and the Empire was established, and Darth Vader was encased in black plastic.. pretty sad overall, but we consider it a nice evening anyway. We chose to travel on the 20th to commemorate that date and our 5th wedding anniversary; that happened in January but we were forced to delay our party. To make it worth heading south there was the annular solar eclipse cruising past Oregon on its way to Texas. These are not the stunners that total eclipses are, with the prominences and huge corona blazing in a starry sky, but they are worth seeing anyway (if you have filters to protect your vision!).
So off we went. This event also came close to cancellation, as we intended to go Saturday for a far more leisurely ramble toward totality - but instead we dashed down Sunday, arriving at a suitable site with about 10 minutes to spare. I brought three cameras - the Lumix G1 and 45-200mm lens got the tripod, the K-5 and various lenses was in hand for versatility, and a film camera was used for the occasional shot, the first film I've exposed in about a decade. Overkill most likely, but if you own them why not use them?
We made a cheap pinhole camera to use when cameras had the filters attached, then popped the filters on the binocs for the big views - or just held the filters to our eyes and saw the action unfold in natural scale. Several groups of clouds threatened to intervene but they passed above the sun instead, so we had very little atmospheric interference with the show. The sky faded toward twilight yet visibility remained great; impressive how less than 10 percent of the sun can still provide that much light! The wind faded to nothing during the eclipse, where it had been brisk and gusty in the afternoon heat. Shadows looked decidedly weird, a feature I remember from 1979's total eclipse that a few of us viewed from near Mt. Hood. And then the moon caught the far edge of the sun, and the event was essentially over. We packed up slowly and drove back into thick mid-level clouds, which brought the solar show to an ignominious end.
It should be noted that my film experience was not great, and makes digital imaging feel so much more 'right' now. I bought batteries for three film bodies, only to find that the 'best' of them (Pentax ME 'SE') had drained them overnight; apparently it was not set to Lock and that's bad. The second ME body was not closing convincingly, so the film could fog at a very bad time - so I stole its batteries and put them in the SE body. Since that had drained the other batteries I wasn't sure of that - so this left the Ricoh XR-10 as my safest bet. That camera came through but it was an awkward fit since I did not get to read any instructions first! The film took almost $10 to process and the drug store failed to print most of the eclipse shots.. guess the computer figured they were blank and decided not to print! I will try that SE in the near future.. maybe it can catch the Venus transit? p.s. it sure is weird not seeing the captured image on the back of old film cameras.. :^)