After three long days of practicing eclipse capture techniques and photographing around Portland and the Columbia River Gorge, my workshop students met up with my family for the 3:45AM drive down I-5 into the zone of totality. The drive was surreal with dense traffic all driving south together in the dark. Traffic thinned as we left Salem and entered the rolling farmland to the southeast on route to a lone oak tree I had scouted on a friend's family farm in Stayton, Oregon.
We brought our sprinter van and 6 cars full of people, gear, snacks, lawn chairs and eclipse glasses to a remote bean-field. All of us had plenty of time to set our composition and check our equipment before the eclipse began. As the sun got dimmer and dimmer the 80 degree day got colder and colder. About 5 minutes before totality I had to run to the van for a puffy coat.
Eclipse glasses were mandatory right up until the last second when the sun winked out behind the black disc of the moon and we took the glasses off our eyes and the filters off our lenses. I heard a cacophony of gasps and exclamations from the group. The horizon and sky 360 degrees around us changed to that dusk-like gradient from orange to dark blue with bright stars and planets clearly visible. The birds became silent and crickets started chirping. Radiating from behind the black moon above, the sun's corona was mesmerizing as it created moving waves of light within the surreal short soft shadows all around us. I was so moved that I nearly forgot to trigger the exposures on my two cameras.
All too soon the sun emerged on the other side of the moon. Glasses and filters redeployed we uncorked some mid-day champagne and reveled in how amazing the whole thing was. I'm hooked. There's another total eclipse setting just to the south of Buenos Aires in a year and a half. I'm already reasearching taking a group down to see and photograph it. Stay tuned.