You know something is a big deal when rural towns are posting "no vacancy" signs in their windows, camping spots are sold out or at a premium, and even parking spots are commanding top dollar. Even more surprising is that this "big deal" has nothing to do with a musical act or celebrity.
Aug. 21, the contiguous United States will play host to the first total eclipse since 1979. According to the NASA website, "everyone in North America plus parts of South America, Africa, and Europe will see at least a partial solar eclipse, while the thin path of totality will pass through portions of 14 states."
The path of totality conveniently goes straight through Carbondale, IL, a few hours drive from Robinson, IL. The city of 26,000 is preparing for a whopping 90,000 visitors to watch the 2 minute, 38 second total eclipse. They even have a dedicated webpage Carbondale Eclipse to help tourists maneuver the college town.
My immediate thought when I heard of the upcoming eclipse was "how am I going to photograph this," and then the hardcore research began. After reading article after article and watching YouTube video after video, I've decided this eclipse is going to stay in my memory not on my memory card. Jeopardizing my eyesight and gear isn't worth the risk.
Obviously, documenting such a huge event is doable with the correct gear. You MUST have the appropriate eye protection and you MUST have a solar filter to protect your camera sensor. There are NO cheap DIY workarounds on this one. Safety is paramount for you and your gear.
Eye and gear protection aside, photographing this event takes a vast amount of planning. There is about a 12-stop variation in nailing this exposure and, guess what, a majority of those really cool photos you're going to see after the event are composites. That's right. There are people who will be setting up, not one, but dozens of cameras fitted with remote triggers and different lenses on tripods. The cameras will be bracketed at different exposures, so that following the 2-minute event, the images can be seamlessly stitched into a single spectacular photo in post-production. Mind blown.
Rather than blow my eyesight, my gear, or my sanity for 2-plus minutes, I'll be kicking back in my funky eclipse glasses safely enjoying the show. I'll take my camera but if I document anything, it will be all the people clamoring for the perfect shot only very few will get and only after hours and hours of post-production.
Be careful out there Monday!
As a side note, after weeding through numerous article, I found these to be the most helpful and interesting. Enjoy the eclipse and be safe!