Three weeks before the eclipse, I decided that I was going to photograph it. The Fort Bragg area wasn’t going to get a total eclipse, so I decided to drive down to South Carolina where the eclipse would be total and photograph away.
I was in good company. After a bit of research, it seemed that half the country was making their way to South Carolina. My plans began to change. I’m not a fan of large crowds, especially when photographing.
I enjoy the solace that landscape photography usually provides. Hiking up into an area and being in solitude is very centering for me, and jostling hoards of people to see a natural phenomenon that I had seen a couple of times in my life before was seeming less and less appealing.
So I changed my plans, and decided to stay at Fort Bragg, where the eclipse wouldn’t be total but it would still be impressive.
I settled on two locations: downtown and Mott Lake. After seeing the advertisements from several downtown shops with eclipse specials, I decided on the more solitary Mott Lake option. On top of that, I had an idea in my head of how I wanted to photograph the eclipse, and Mott Lake seemed like it would be the best spot to do it.
Location scouting (mostly) finished, I focused on building filters for my camera lenses. I purchased ISO certified film and glasses from Amazon. Camera lenses have front threads to screw various filters on the front, so my plan was to buy cheap filters and affix the eclipse film to the front using a thin layer of glue. I could then screw the filter on my lens. Easy peasy. Mostly.
The building of the filters actually went much smoother than I had anticipated. I used a glue stick and ran it around the edges of the filter, and then dropped the filter on top of the film.
Once the glue was dry, I took an Exacto knife and trimmed off around the edges of the filter. Though fragile, this process worked really well and I was able to make filters for four lenses with the film I had.
Armed with two pairs of glasses and filters for my cameras, I grabbed my friend and headed off to Mott Lake.
My plan was to try to photograph the reflection of the eclipse in the water as best as I could. With the location of the sun being close to directly overhead, however, it was going to be a bit of a challenge to get landscape and reflection.
I chose a location toward the back of Mott Lake. I had a clear view of the main body of the lake and had a beautiful swampy area nearby as well. I set up one camera with a long lens to photograph the sun as close as possible and had a second camera available for wider landscape images.
My friend and I sat down on camping chairs and put on our glasses and watched nature take its course. Every minute, my camera would take a photo of the sun changing shape. I felt like an ancient, observing and almost worshiping the sun. Photographing the sun in the solitude of the world, with the lake nearby, the birds quietly chirping, the crickets singing their evening songs and a bullfrog sounding off brought such a sense of peace to me.
In the end, I didn’t get the image I wanted. I knew that it would be near impossible with the location of the sun where it was. However, I did get some pretty awesome photos of the sun and more importantly, had a great time doing it.