Friday, 20 March 2015
I was really looking forward to this morning's solar eclipse. I eagerly watched the weather predictions and read a few tips about how to get a good photo. I ordered a dark filter to go on the front end of my camera because I was told that if I did not use a filter the sun would burn a hole in my camera. But the filter never arrived and I had to change my plan.
On Thursday I shifted to Plan B and dug out an old lens that I already had filters for and put two of them on. I even took a few practise shots with the camera fitted to a stout tripod.
By now you will have seen hundreds of amazing photos of the eclipse but they fall into two camps, generally. Either they are close ups, with the sun filling most of the frame or they are scenics that take in the eerie effect of the eclipse on a landscape.
I would have liked to plant myself somewhere with an iconic backdrop and a good view of the sky, preferably in the Arctic Circle, but I was tied to my house for the morning. Fortunately, my back garden faces the morning sun and I was able to keep an eye on my son in the kitchen while taking pictures through the back door.
The day dawned overcast and misty with us but the sun broke through just as the first bite was being taken out of it by the moon. As the eclipse progressed and the light faded, an eerie silence fell over my village. At one point no birds sang at all, except one ardent collared dove that barely stopped croaking for more than a few minutes. Then a cockerel started to crow, as they do in the minutes before dawn. I found this quite remarkable because I don't remember ever hearing a cockerel here before.
The descent from misty grey into twilight seemed to take an age but the re-awakening of the day into bright morning was almost instant. Blackbirds sang, goldfinches tinkled and the temperature shot upwards. It was as though the eclipse had held back the morning for as long as it could and then had released the day.
This eclipse was particularly significant because it fell on the Spring Equinox. We started the day in winter and ended it in spring, and that's just how it felt.