Eclipse Atmosphere

Having photographed a couple of eclipses in the past, I was well prepared for the March 2015 near-totality in our part of the UK. Which is to say, I did precisely nothing.

Photographing an eclipse in a cloudless sky is a non-trivial undertaking, requires every form of filter invented and, unless you capture the penumbra during totality, tends to produce moderately boring images. Add some clouds however and things can become more interesting, to a point: a few kilometres of suspended water vapour forms a fantastic natural neutral density filter and, given an bit of structure, provides an atmospheric composition to the whole process. So, whilst I could have headed towards the potentially clearer skies of the East coast, I chose to stay pretty much where I was, hoping for a enough of a break in the Highland clouds to capture fragments of the transit.

And, anticipating the sepulchural half-light of near-totality I wanted a venue with matching atmosphere. Prime candidate here was Glasgow’s amazing necropolis. This however had the disadvantages of being an hour’s drive away and having a forecast of heavier cloud. So I took the easy option, saved a dozen litres of fuel and set up in our local churchyard, right next to Rob Roy’s grave. Remaining preparation was then to cross fingers and hope for the best. And the best was better than I’d dared hope: solid cover at the maximum gave way to firstly, tantalising glimpses of the crescent sun and then longer periods of bright contrast, framed beautifully by swirling cloud, itself rainbow tinted by the oblique sunlight.

Equipment: Olympus E-M1/M.Zuiko 40-150mm f2.8 Pro + M.Zuiko MC-14 1.4x teleconverter. Camera on tripod and fired remotely from wi-fi link to iPhone.