Butter headquarters is coming to you this morning from The Land of Enchantment – New Mexico! Jeremy has a meeting here and since we are fans of the multi-tasking, I suggested we stop in Albuquerque on the drive down, to… you know, SHOOT THE ANNULAR SOLAR ECLIPSE?!
Albuquerque was along that narrow swath to get a perfect ring when the moon passed between our sun and our beloved planet. Jeremy, native son of New Mexico, suggested getting a high vantage from someplace like Sandia Crest, 5000 feet above Albuquerque. Several hundreds (thousand or more?) had the same idea… The forest service had the tremendous task of managing parking and emergency services while throngs of excited people flocked to the long north-south ridge crest. My National Parks Annual Pass got us in the door (they turned cars away that didn’t have a recreation pass – those folks parked further down the road).
to my south: my setup and fellow eclipse watchers
to my north – more eclipse watchers
For those wanting to know, here is what I shot with: my main system was the Nikon D3X with the Nikkor 500mm f4 lens (lens courtesy of Pro Photo Rental, they are the best!) and a sheet of Baader Astrosolar safety film courtesy of Doug Duncan, the Director of the Fiske Planetarium at the University of Colorado, Boulder. My second system was the Nikon D700 and a Nikkor 24-70mm f2.8. My third system was the iphone.
the sun, high in the sky
It took 30 minutes to scout out a proper location without obstructions and without getting in anyone’s way (remember, you want a clear path all the way to sunset). We finally settled among a group of the nicest people from New Mexico, Texas, and even two charming gentleman from as far away as the UK! There was a buzz of excitement in the air, even with over an hour to wait before anything actually happened. Jeremy and I had our handy solar eclipse glasses we purchased from our local hardware store (McGuckin – they’re awesome!). We purchased a dozen extras and proceeded to hand them out to anyone who needed a pair. [One New Mexico resident, Joseph Woods, was so appreciative he gave me his card and said I could select one of his artworks as a thank you – so sweet!] Before long, people were sharing food and filters and everyone was so damn nice! We should have eclipses more often.
the view over the rio grande rift valley
getting dimmer during the eclipse, but it was still incredibly bright out
Around 6:31pm (according to my camera time stamp), the moon began to take a small nibble out of the bottom right corner of the sun. We had about an hour to totality (when the moon is directly centered on the sun – in this case, the annular eclipse results in a ring). Mine was likely the most powerful magnification in my vicinity, and since eclipses are thankfully slow, I offered to let my neighbors look through the camera at the sun, sunspots, the shadow of the moon throughout the phases. SCIENCE!!! I photographed the disc of the sun with the big guns, but Jeremy reminded me of other fun things like eclipse shadows and pinhole projections.
pinhole projection on the only paper i had
cool eclipse shadows from the leaves projected on a rock (photo by jeremy)
the sun at totality – it’s still super bright
pinhole projection at totality
When the eclipse reached totality around 7:30pm, the entire ridge rose in a roar of hoots, hollers, joyful shouts, cheers, and clapping! Even the dogs (there were tons of doggies) began to howl when they heard everyone rejoicing. It was incredible and so special. Through the eclipse glasses, which give the sun an orange tint, it looked like The One Ring. So here are some shots of the sun through the solar filter:
moon takes a bite of the first sunspot
almost to the second sunspot
third sunspot is up next
almost closing the loop – you can see some topography of the moon in silhouette
totality (commence the howling!!)
breaking the ring
By this point, the sun was hanging low in the sky. It would set before the eclipse was over, but this was the part I was most excited for. A good fraction of the eclipse watchers began packing up and leaving – it was getting pretty chilly too. But the dedicated and the curious remained to see it finish out. The sun began to dim and turn its lovely warm colors. As it neared the horizon of sprawling New Mexico mesas, the sun started distorting and flattening (thank you, atmosphere).
giving back the sunspots
getting oranger yet
I finally felt it was safe enough to remove my filter to shoot the setting sun without damaging my camera sensor or my eye! Everyone clicked away or marveled at the sight before them – a partially eclipsed setting sun. Land of Enchantment, indeed.
you can see the sunspots (no filter)
still looks full, doesn’t it?
dropping behind the horizon
disappearing shark fin
Well, I hope you enjoyed those photographs. What an experience and what an amazing world we live in! Were you able to see all or any of the annular solar eclipse? I’m heading south for more shooting, but will hopefully get a recipe up for you later in the week. For now, enjoy the eclipse and be nice to one another. xo