So I’m busy on August 21, 2017…

I have a serious love-hate relationship with the social media site reddit.  I’ve met great people on the site, and I’ve met people for whom the words “restraining order” fit them perfectly.

But this time, while participating in a special themed reddit gift exchange, I received a gift that, for all intents and purposes, blocked out a day on next year’s schedule.

Let me explain.

One of reddit’s sites, r/secretsanta, allows members to participate in themed “Secret Santa” gift exchanges.  This month involved a photography gift exchange, so heck yeah I signed up for it.  I give a photography-themed gift to person A, while person B gets me something photographically related.  Fun stuff.

No problem getting my giftie something on their wish list.  A quick trip to Amazon, purchased, paid, posted.  Happy Christmas, four months early. 😀

As for my Santa … well … I wasn’t completely sure what to expect.

That was until a few days ago, when I received a package in the mail.

Here’s what I received.

This is a 62mm camera lens filter.  With a mirror on it.
This is a 62mm camera lens filter. With a mirror on it.

Normally, a camera lens filter may possess a tinted coating, so as to bring out certain details in your photograph.

This lens, however, has a very opaque mirror-like coating.

And that mirror-like coating is there for one reason and one reason only.

This is a lens for photographing the sun.

Manufactured by Thousand Oaks Optical of Kingman, Arizona, this lens should be used when one wants to photograph such things as sunspots on the sun, solar flares, sunrays, and…

It can also be used to complete a challenge.

In sending me this solar filter, my Secret Santa actually challenged me to capture a photo of the upcoming August 21, 2017 total solar eclipse.  This eclipse is scheduled to cross through the United States, and if I photographed the solar eclipse in Albany, I could get about 75% to 80% of totality from the event.

Or… I could travel to the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States, and capture the eclipse there.  Totality – in which the moon completely passes in front of the sun, creating a beautiful ring instead of a beautiful crescent – can be achieved in certain only in certain locations, such as in Carbondale, Illinois; Nashville, Tennessee; and Charleston, South Carolina.

All I do know is that on August 21, 2017, I will be busy.  I may be unavailable that day.  Whether I’m unavailable in Albany or in Nashville, or in the Berkshires or the Adirondacks or in the Great Smokies, I want to capture that eclipse.

Heck, I’ve already crossed off meteor showers and star trails and blood moons from my life list, why not add an eclipse to the mix?

And my Santa also said that when I do capture this eclipse, Santa would like a copy of the completed photo to hang in his workshop.


Of course, I know that August 21, 2017 is a long way off.  Eleven months, to be exact.  And there’s so many things I have to schedule and arrange by then.  Tangible variables like weather conditions and lodgings and last-minute relocations due to clouds or rain.

That being said, I do not back down from challenges.  I embrace them and aim for them.

So whether I can capture a brilliant crescent eclipse in the Capital District…

Or whether I can capture an awesome total eclipse in the heartland…

Challenge accepted.

And I will do everything in my power to not let Santa down.

Time to start planning.

Trust me.  It’s not like the eclipse will be postponed for another date.

Besides, I want to make sure I thank Santa properly, by showing that the gift Santa sent me will provide an awesome, frame-worthy – heck, competition-worthy – creation.


3 thoughts on “So I’m busy on August 21, 2017…”

  1. Secret Santa’s have to be the best thing to come out of reddit followed by the advice animal memes. I have done a few and the amount of care and thought that goes into the responses I’ve gotten is really inspiring.


  2. That’s a shot of a lifetime!
    I’ve never done Reddit. The few times I’ve been referred to it, it was for some crankiness I can do without. Glad it worked for you.


  3. If you do decide to travel to see the total eclipse, trust us: you won’t want to be fidgeting with your camera during the very brief period of totality. At most, it will only last for 2 minutes and 40 seconds. Spend that very brief time enjoying the sight with your own eyes, not through the lens of your camera. The partial phases of the eclipse will last much longer, so if you must take a photograph, take it of the partial eclipse when you’ll have plenty of time to get a good shot.

    Also, considering the fact that you received the filter from a stranger, you should take it to a reputable astronomy shop or local astronomy club to confirm that it’s the proper one to use during a solar eclipse. If you don’t use the correct solar filter on your camera, or if you don’t use it in the right way, you could do permanent damage to your eyes.

    And, by the way, you won’t need a filter during totality anyway. The very brief period of totality is the only time when it’s safe to look directly at the eclipse without special safety glasses on your eyes or a filter on your camera.


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