Today in Charleston, SC the family and I witnessed the 2017 eclipse. I know people talk about all the emotions it brings out but it really doesn’t hit you until you are there and experience it. I don’t know if it’s the super amazing natural light show, watching a celestial event with family or just the unity the event brings out. Whatever it is is just amazing.
It was a bit of an adventure just getting to see the eclipse. I waited late (about a week and a half out) to purchase eclipse filters for the family. That of course meant a frantic search through amazon.com too not only find some that were in stock but also properly certified. A high level of scrutiny also followed this from the wife. Something about the kids not loosing their eyesight. After that I, somehow figured I’d just nab a camera filter as well. No. Unless, I wanted to drop a couple of hundred there wasn’t a one to be had. I ended up making one using Mylar from a survival blanket and black poster board. Take that MacGyver!
We have family in Charleston, SC so the decision on location was pretty easy. However, I had not anticipated how the super heated subtropical weather patterns of Charleston would affect eclipse viewing. So, during the last week and a half running up to the eclipse, I kept a running watch on the weather forecasts. Depressing. Charleston consistently received a low percentage chance of being able to view the eclipse. Oh well, at least we would visit family and enjoy Charleston.
Today we awoke to a dreary forecast of scattered thunderstorms and clouds. However, there was a potential forecasted break near the coast or the beaches. Initially we opted to hang out in Goose Creek and watch close to family. That was quickly rained out but I did get some cool photos of an alligator hanging out in the lake we first staked out. Quickly scraping that plan, I proposed we jump in the car and drive down to Waterfront Park in Charleston. The park is right on the water and I figured it was the closest place we could get fast that had a decent chance of clear skies. This was at 1:30 and the eclipse had already started.
After a surprisingly traffic free and quick drive downtown we found parking in an equally surprisingly not full parking garage across the street from Waterfront park. A short walk later we were hanging out with a few hundred other eclipse viewers with the added bonus of thin clouds to see the eclipse through. This is where the magic starts. Throwing on the filters and seeing the eclipse in full swing with a few hundred strangers who are equally thrilled is a thing to behold. Helping my wife setup her smartphone and making sure the kids had the gear on was surprisingly rewarding. Seeing the kids not only engaged but thrilled was the best.
As we approached totality, the crowd repeatedly cheered and their wasn’t a face in the crowd without either an ear-to-ear grin or a look of total awe. When the moment arrived I just can’t find the words. Between the flare just before totality, seeing the corona and watching the street lights come on at 2:46, I couldn’t have been happier
I’m a photographer and I watched videos on what would happen and how to photograph the eclipse. Still, when we got to the park and I started trying to take pictures, I swear I forgot everything I learned. One of the videos said this would probably happen but I didn’t believe it. It’s overwhelming to witness and try to photograph. It’s a combination of total amazement and some very varied lighting conditions. Didn’t help that I was using a homemade Mylar filter either. I got a few decent pics and they are in this post. Absolutely nothing like what I saw or had envisioned capturing. Clearly, I will need to do better for the 2024 eclipse ;-).
I couldn’t imagine doing something cooler today and feel absolutely warm and happy inside just thinking about it. Hope you got to see it too.