“Are you shooting the eclipse?” No. And here’s why.
There’s no doubt that the total solar eclipse happening on August 21, 2017 is a spectacular event. The near once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see such a sight is very intriguing, enough so that with Oregon being the first state (and in my opinion one of the most beautiful) for the eclipse to be witnessed, the population of the state is expected to grow by one million visitors which will mostly congregate along the path of totality. The Oregon Coast, Bend, and many small towns along the way are expecting a week of traffic congestion, massively inflated lodging costs, and crowd sizes that have never been experienced. Hospitals are expecting major increases in emergency visits and are rescheduling medical procedures in order to prepare. Ice will be in short supply, rental car companies are scrambling to have enough cars on hand, and there’s even a shortage of porta-potties. Needless to say, campgrounds and hotels have long been booked full and if you’re looking to fly by the seat of your pants to view the eclipse you’re likely to experience plenty of frustration in your endeavor. The hype around the whole ordeal has brought the question ‘Are you going to photograph the eclipse?’ to myself and likely every other landscape/nature photographer dozens of times over the past year.
I’ll be blunt. I have zero interest partaking in the madness that is about to descend upon the area. I’ve always been an introvert and the older I get, the more I am falling into those tendencies. I have sat in traffic on the Columbia River Scenic Highway the sides of the road lined with parked cars for miles. I’ve been on the coast during typical holidays and endured the party and tailgating atmosphere. The traffic, noise, crowds, and logistics required to view the eclipse in totality is enough of a turn-off that I’ve long resigned the idea of it.
But beyond everything I just mentioned lies a more personal reason. My photography isn’t driven by specific moments in time. It’s not about natural phenomena or colorful beginnings and endings of days. I’m not necessarily compelled to chase extreme weather conditions. I’m not driven to create photographs for the sake of sharing something pretty. Creating photographs is, for me, an urge. A need to connect with my environment on a more intimate level than I would have otherwise and the requirement of closing the loop on the experience, tying it in to a certain aspect of my life whether it be a milestone, an experience, or an emotion.
Each photograph I share is a moment when I felt internally compelled to trip my shutter. I may know the reason why when I did so, but most times the answer is revealed to me in the future.
I am not internally moved by this event and as such I will be viewing a partial eclipse from the middle of the street in Portland with my girlfriend by my side, and that’s enough to give me a more rewarding hour than I would have experienced had I partaken in the festivities.
If you have made the decision to head out for the event, please consider the following:
- Pack it in, pack it out!
- It’s wildfire season. Please respect burn bans and extinguish all campfires DEAD OUT!
- Make sure all cigarettes are extinguished before disposing of them properly.
- Expect traffic, limited services, and delayed emergency response.
- Expect road closures. As stated previously.. it’s wildfire season.
- Be kind to each other and to the land.
- Enjoy the view… for two minutes. 🙂
More hazard and total eclipse viewing info can be found at: http://www.oregon.gov/oem/hazardsprep/Pages/2017-Total-Solar-Eclipse.aspx
Do you have plans to view the eclipse or do you have anything to add to the list of things to consider? Please let me know in the comments!