The solar eclipse of 2017 was stunning, even from our home that experienced only 99.8% of totality. Instead of joining the throngs in Nashville, Murfreesboro, or other surrounding areas, my son, John, his wife, Julie, and their four month old, Arthur, opted to photograph with me our landscape as we experienced the wonder of night in the middle of the day. None of us really knew what to expect, but armed with sandwiches, chips, cool drinks, and excitement, we waited. Keeping our cameras on the same settings and taking pictures in roughly twenty-minute increments—up until the end I was so excited I just couldn’t help but take pictures every other minute—we watched as the moon’s shadow blocked out the sun.
To the human eye, it didn’t get completely dark, even in the zone of totality, (as reported to me by my daughter who lives in that path). Here, as one sliver of the sun almost completely disappeared, another one immediately took its place. Outside of totality, there was no corona or diamond burst of light but only what looked to be a shadowy grey brown murkiness mixed with a little orange. The lamppost in the front yard turned on as did our white lights that line our porch’s bannister. As we looked out, the normally beautiful vista, which to the human eye appeared now to be somewhat out of focus, took on an eery distasteful feel. But later, looking at the photos we took, especially the ones when the sun was 99.8% blocked, we saw something quite different. Except for the almost imperceptible twinkle of lights, everything else was black. (I posted duplicates of those last two shots taken at 1:27PM and 1:28PM. One, to show the photo as is, which appears to show just darkness. The second is overexposed so you can see what was actually in the shot—closer to what our eyes saw—but is not visible without editing).
Did the lens of the camera lie? Or did it just not pick up on the nuances that our eyes, constantly adjusting, allow us to see? I would say it is somewhere in between. But I couldn’t help but feel that the same trick our eyes played on us in the eclipse in making it seem not quite night, is analogous to what’s happening in our world today. The overshadowing of what is right with what is wrong, what is light and dark, accepting, even winking at what was unacceptable—what was considered uncouth, as my mama used to call it—is now more the norm than not. The lines drawn in the sand of what is allowed have seemed to fade, almost disappear, as the tide of popular opinion washes it beyond recognition. Continue reading