Wednesday, November 15, 2017

South Carolina Solar Eclipse 2017

Driving down to South Carolina off I-95 one drives to several small towns in several stages of decay, once vibrant because of small industries and agricultural enterprises.  It appears to me that the downfall of tobacco has an impact on the communities and younger people moving away.  Still small businesses still barely survive as Melvin’s in Elizabethtown. Drove by the big sign on the main road several times and decided to take the right turn in the main street and tried.  It is on the main shopping strip, narrow as a shotgun style home.  It was busy…good sign.  They only serve hamburgers and hot dogs; that is it.  The hamburgers come with a few condiment choices.  The hamburgers were fine but the T-shirts more tasteful…I mean colorful.

I always happen to go by Myrtle Beach by-pass Rt. 17 on my way to Huntington State Park driving by the Broadway at the Beach amusement park.  Most of these places have an entrance fee, but here it is open and you pay for the amenities you use.  The King Kong climbing the Empire State is the most impressive; the Ferris wheel is big and the upside down WonderWorks building the most unusual and is actually a science museum.  The park is arranged around a lake where there are various boat rides and colorful large inflated wheels.  Numerous shops mostly selling candies and knick-knacks, restaurants, fortune tellers and a couple losing their pants.

Huntington State Park is a small nature reserve with a causeway leading to the barrier island also off Rt. 17 going south. I have visited here for more than 40 years because the ease of photographing wildlife and the variety.  There is a big colony of wood storks that also nest in the area; this is probably the ugliest bird in North America and they feed in groups. 

The black-crowned night heron is also a year round resident; the image below was posterized to give it an artistic look.  I ran into a group of American egrets that were feeding at low tide who were fighting to steal the catch from each and a tricolor heron running to get into the action.   I leave the area with a flower image.

Went to Sumter to watch the eclipse and while there toured the area.  As in many southern towns, it went into a period of decay but now is undergoing a downtown revival. Some buildings have been restored and due to the eclipse, downtown was busy with tourists.  Visited an old printing shop but the old equipment is not used since everything is done now by computers.  The printing press dates back to the 1890’s.

Lunch at the Cut Rate Drugs and Coffee Shop, an old surviving drug store claiming “best chicken salad sandwiches”.  These were scarce in salad and served in large buns…nothing to brag about. The menu was decorated with ads of old medications such as one promising the enlargement of bust by ingestion or cream application…it was not in stock at the drug counter.

Swan Lake is a very attractive park which is basically a swamp with a large number swans and ducks.  There are trails around as well as an interpretation center; it is a worthwhile visit.  The second black and white image shows the patterns of the duckweeds formed in the surface…the waters appeared a bit polluted and overgrown with underwater grasses; these were being removed by crew when I was visiting.

 I have an affinity for eclipses and the first total eclipse that I photographed was in Pungo, an area in Virginia Beach, back in March 7, 1970.  I was there with past acquaintances, some of whom still visit my blog occasionally.  With one of those, I continued to travel for several years in the early 1990’s chasing eclipses all over the world.  The most thrilling was the one in Potosi, Bolivia, in 1994. Being in the Andes, we were high providing a choice location and we selected a spot off the road in a small farm. As the light began to dim, the noisy chickens ran to their coops in desperation as well as the cows mooing to the barns and then total silence.  The dogs started barking but as darkness increased they also quieted down.  When totality passed and the light emerged, the animals started to come out of their residences cautiously until regular life was restored. I hope to be around to photograph the next eclipse in Chile in 2019, also in the Andes.  The simple black and white image below is at the beginning of the eclipse as the moon starts to move in front of the sun.  

 The following image is at totality and it would originally be in white and black because of the solar filter I used that allowed me to take the photos; otherwise the intensity of the light would have not allowed the sensor of my camera to record images.  All the following photos were taken using HDR.  This is a technique by which several images taken at different exposures are stacked together allowing the capture of a larger range of colors and details than just by using a single image.
 Below are various versions of the diamond ring effect at the end of totality. The red flames seen flaring from the edge are called prominences and the glare around the disk is the corona.  There are 3 versions below of the same image below.  The last one was an inversion of colors making the brighter areas look dark.

While in South Carolina, visited a plantation where the 111 year old owner was celebrating her birthday.  Still of clear mind and spirited and full of stories as to things has changed. She is the oldest resident in the state and 19th in line for the entire USA.

Still way behind in my blogs…will I catch up before the end of the year?