So, like everyone else in the Upstate, I woke up on Monday with one thing on my mind: the eclipse.
And you know what? I was not disappointed. That was honestly one of the most awesome things I have ever seen — and in my line of work, I’ve seen quite a bit.
I was humbled at the sheer power of the natural world around me and was profoundly (and unexpectedly) affected by what I witnessed.
I mean, I knew it was going to get dark but I was thinking more “dusk like.” Nope. This was straight up night time and I was just blown away.
But let me back up …
Before I was “humbled by the sheer power of the natural world,” I was completely and totally stressed out. Here’s what happened:
First off, I should share with you that I have two moods that I alternate between: Panicky/stressed/worried-about-everything and “Eh, it is what it is.” There is no middle ground with me, I’m either wound tighter than a clock or I am the most chill girl ever.
That being said, I can also alternate rather swiftly between the two moods.
Such was the case on Monday.
I had been tasked with shooting the photographs of the eclipse that were going to be used in our sister papers The Newberry Observer and The Union Times as well as The Sentinel-Progress. Now, this wasn’t decided by skill — more by default. In short, I was the only one who had a long enough lens for their camera as well as a solar filter.
I enjoy photography very much and besides writing this column, it is a (close) second favorite part of my job.
But one thing any photographer will tell you is that no matter what kind of fancy equipment you may have, there is no substitute for experience.
In other words? It’s the photographer who takes the photos, not the camera. And, practice makes perfect.
Well, it was the latter part of that I was having issues with — I had never shot an eclipse before. Hell, I’d never even seen one. How in the world was I going to do this?
More importantly, OMG what if I screw it all up and then there’s no art for three different newspapers!
I was in panic mode.
On top of that, my husband had injured his back on Sunday and subsequently was having problems walking and bending over — and we have a two year old.
Because he couldn’t pick the toddler up, change a diaper or even get to him quickly if needed — I was periodically dropping back in at the house to make sure everything was OK in between covering the various events around town.
It was a busy day, to say the least.
Finally, the moment arrived: eclipse time!
I had my camera settings prepped, my batteries fully charged and my tripod at the ready. But here’s where I went wrong: although I double checked my gear the night before to ensure everything was in order, I didn’t actually test out my rig. And as it turned out, my camera with the battery grip and telephoto lens was too much weight for my tripod to hold at a vertical angle.
OK, Plan B: Find a grassy area without too many fire ants and shoot this thing on my back — which was where the second problem arose …
You really wouldn’t think it would be that hard to find the sun. I mean, it’s big, it’s bright and it’s, well, it’s the sun.
But with my solar safety glasses on, I just couldn’t find it in my view finder. Like, at all.
I was beginning to freak out.
So, yeah, I did the one thing everybody was told over and over not to do, I ditched my glasses.
My mood shifted instantly from complete stress and worry to the other end of my emotional spectrum and I casually shot the eclipse like I worked for NASA and did this kind of thing everyday.
Waking up on Tuesday morning I was pleased to see some of my photographs of the event circling around on social media websites. Especially being that they were shot on the fly while potentially risking permanent damage to my retinas.
But eh, what can I say?
It is what it is.
Kasie Strickland is a staff writer for The Sentinel-Progress and can be reached at email@example.com. Views expressed in this column are those of the writer only and do not necessarily represent the newspaper’s opinion.