Eclipse Photography

I know I’m a little late to the party, but I just got linked to a amazing photo of the July solar eclipse, of which this is a teeny preview; you should definitely check out the whole thing and read the Scientific American article. There’s also a link to a much larger version that will soon become my laptop background.

Photos like this one take many exposures snapped in a short window of opportunity, each one adjusted for this or that and combined into a composite. When I first read up on astrophotography, I thought “Oh. So it didn’t really look like that,” in a sort of judgmental nine-year-old voice. But as I stare at the elegant wisps and whorls of the solar eclipse (Is this what everything looks like when you’re stoned? No wonder people like to smoke pot and contemplate the ceiling.), I reconsider. It’s not that the heavenly bodies don’t “look like that,” it’s that my puny human organs are not able to see that far away, or ultraviolet light, or with a particular shutter speed or white balance or contrast. When they come out with real Georgi LaForge eyes, sometime after the flying cars, that won’t be a problem; I can sit and watch the currents of space drift by, my vision augmented by technology, and I won’t doubt that what I see is really there. Until then, I expand my consciousness via other people’s DSLRs.


Megan Messinger wants to make a “staring at the solar eclipse picture” playlist and welcomes suggestions.

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