Solar Eclipse Crescents. Todd Petit. August 21, 2017. CC Attribution 2.0 Generic License
Black & white filter added to the original.
Today, something spectacular happened. It filled me with wonder.
It was not the eclipse.
But it was a result of the eclipse.
Last week was busy for me, and I didn't have time to get hold of eclipse glasses until everyone had sold out. I thought I'd go to a viewing party and score some there, but it didn't come together for me. So I pulled up one of the many videos I'd found on safe viewing.
When I saw the clip about creating a camera obscura, I was fascinated. I had no idea you could turn a whole room into a camera. I'd heard of pinhole cameras before, and had even done a couple photography self studies in college, but I'd never used (or understood) the mechanism of the camera obscura. It so happens that my studio window faces the direction that the sun would be at the peak viewing time in Orlando, so I thought, why not?
I got to work taping and nailing cardboard, black paper, and a heavy poncho across my studio window. I filled in the gaps with tin foil and made five different pinholes in hopes that at least one of them would catch the moon as it gobbled up the sun. I created flaps over them so I could use one or more at a time.
My 15-year-old got home just as I was finishing this motley collage. As often happens, she pronounced me crazy. But then - and I am pleased to say this happens almost as often - she joined me in the craze.
We opened the first pinhole. The trees, the street, the sky, shot onto the walls and vaulted ceiling like dark, upside down ghosts. We moved huge empty painting canvases around the room, trying to catch the patch of sky where the sun and moon would meet. We crawled under my writing desk to avoid casting shadows over the delicate projections of the outside world.
Cars drove by, and we could see them like an old film - their color, their features - these weren't just silhouettes. They were cars on camera, in real time. And people. People walked upside down across the ceiling, slanting toward the wall.
The room was dim and quiet and full of my fascination (and my daughter's amusement).
We never did catch the sun. We saw the crescents, like the ones Todd Petit has captured in the photo above, scattered like celestial lace across our porch in the spaces between the shadows of jasmine leaves. I briefly used a pinhole in a piece of cardboard to watch it on the sidewalk.
But after a few moments of this, I went back up to the studio. The eclipse held gifts for everyone who took the time to appreciate it, but for me, that gift was sitting inside a magical, upside down world of ghost images. I can't quite bring myself to take down the blackout collage across my window yet. I keep thinking about projecting the world onto a canvas and painting it as it goes by. I suspect I'll be spending a good deal of time inside the camera in the next few months.
My makeshift camera obscure blackout window - also known as my daughter's evidence of my mental instability.
I was so fascinated by watching cars and people glide across my ceiling that I didn't think to film or photograph it - will do that another day when the light is right again. But here's a great representation of turning a room into a camera obscura by photographer Shuets Udono, CC Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic License
Thanks for visiting The Percolator's blog. I'm a big believer in using art to make a positive impact on our communities. Check back often for ideas, articles, and more about art, writing, and creativity in general. ~Bethany