My Underwhelming Solar Eclipse Photos

Digital Photo Magazine published my Underwhelming Solar Eclipse photos today and I’m cross-posting it here with one that didn’t make the cut.

Sid’s Shitshow

It’s from the 5:00 AM Sid Shitshow at the Silverton McDonalds.

You see, Sid made a stand here, it was epic, and was the start of an eventful and memorable day. Silverton is a sleepy farm town in Oregon’s Willamette Valley.

Just not when hordes of solar eclipse chasers descend on it and McDonalds is the only open restaurant with a public bathroom in town.

Sid wanted his Egg McMuffin and wasn’t having a ever-longer line or missing his eclipse-viewing spot waiting for the fryer to heat up. Despite intense negotiations with his wife and family, involving colorful language, and a few verbal threats, he held his ground as a pedestrian in the drive-through lane.

Looking at us, we waved him off with a, “Give it up, Sid. Get yourself to the eclipse!”

Then after what seemed like an eternity in the drive-through lane, and his family packing up and driving off slowly without him, Sid relented. He stomp walked towards their minivan and climbed in.

I was relieved the situation with Sid didn’t turn into a breakfast riot and it felt like we were minutes from the Sid Totality. After getting our burritos, we all moved on to watching the eclipse.

Below is the rest of the story about that and how I left the good camera at home to enjoy the moment.

Students at Silverton High

As I wrote in my weekly Digital Photo blog post, I didn’t try to shoot the Total Solar Eclipse; instead, I was in the moment and enjoyed it immensely.

Wired took a similar approach, leaving the solar photography to the astrological pros and NASA. The Guardian asked their readers to share their underwhelming photos, too. Eclipse photography is tricky, as you can see, but what was important is that everyone was taking photos, and for me, a self-assigned challenge to leave the good camera at home.

What I did take photos of were the people and scenery around me. The audio was remarkable, too, for all the “oohs, aahs, wows, and awesomes.” Listen below, noting that it was sunset at 10:17 a.m., and the temperature dropped about 10 degrees.

When the totality starts, it feels like something is instinctively wrong. Then, right before the moon covered the sun, a hawk flew over us, calling and screeching.

Then a hawk flew past

It was ominous.

As my friend Matt Haughey said to me in a text:

Taking off glasses to see a black dot with white flames around it was profoundly awesome.

It really was, and I hope you got to see it.

Here are my photos of the event where we watched it at Silverton High School, including the hawk flyby. Benefiting from a NASA grant, the science class sent off an observation balloon, and that was neat to watch as well.

Finally, see this for a real-deal solar eclipse NASA photo taken near Madras, about two hours from Silverton. That’s the most representative of what I saw: a black dot with white flames around it.

Photo NASA/Aubrey Gemignani

Originally published at on August 24, 2017.