There are moments in our lives where we plan things out, bit by bit, piece by piece, frame by frame.
We plan these things out. We account for all possible variables. We keep a spare tire in our car just in case we develop a flat. We keep three cans of Spam in the cupboard in case food gets a bit tight. We do many, many things.
Last Friday, I planned every possible maneuver for a lunar eclipse photo shoot.
And damn it, I ran into all sorts of conflicts.
Let me explain.
For what may have been weeks now, I’ve tried to plot a lunar eclipse photo shoot. The goal of the eclipse photo shoot was to capture the phases of the eclipse as it floats through totality, and achieve them all in one single frame. Or at least compose them in a single frame.
And I checked every possible decent shooting location. But every time one location proved promising, the weather forecast kept flashing various “cloudy” reports at me. Partly Cloudy. Mostly Cloudy. Completely woolen blanket in the skies cloudy.
After what seemed like an eternity, I found a possible shooting location. North Hudson, near the old Frontier Town amusement park – now the Frontier Town campgrounds.
My original plan was to shoot at Palmer Pond, and get the moon as it descended into Blue Ridge Road. That would be stunning. For sure.
Except for one eensy weensy problem. I didn’t know if there was a place where I could safely park. A phone call to the DEC representative led me to another phone call, this one with the local forest ranger. Both told me that the access road to Palmer Pond was being used by construction repair teams, as apparently many roads and culverts in that area were damaged by a recent flood. He recommended a few places along Blue Ridge Road, and wished me success.
I continued to look at the maps. Hey, wait a second. There’s this new Paradox Brewery restaurant over here … and it’s got an observation deck, and you can see several of the High Peaks from that location. A quick call to Paradox Brewery to secure permission to access the location after closing hours, and I had my game plan set.
I continued to monitor the weather. Every single shooting local I had previously designated – Voorheesville, Glenmont, Corinth, Clinton, Crown Point – all were coated in clouds for Friday morning. North Hudson had a small window of clear skies. It was my only chance.
I loaded up my car with my Nikon Df camera and my Irix 15mm f/2.4 super-ultra-wide camera. If I’m doing this, I’m doing this with my top weapons.
10:00 p.m. Left the Capital District, and drove 90 minutes into the Adirondacks. Arrived safely at Paradox Brewery.
And it was then … that I discovered that the observation deck has four very tall, very bright, very active light poles.
It’s too late for me to visit any other shooting location. If I’m going to do this, it has to be in North Hudson. Time to take the ranger’s advice and drive up Blue Ridge Road. I thought about maybe going to the Boreas Ponds to get the photos, but again – flooding damage – and the already rutty and treacherous Gulf Brook Road would be almost impenetrable. Plus, the moon would be out of position if I shot at Boreas Ponds.
Okay. Driving up Blue Ridge Road. Wait a second. There’s a clearing on the left. It’s the Adirondack Buffalo farm. I’ve been here before. There’s ample parking, clear skies, all I have to do is park here, mind my business, and be done.
I set up my tripod, checked my specs, and looked up to the skies.
Straight up clouds.
Maybe the clouds will clear, I thought. I’m up here. Learn to develop patience. Meditate on this.
Meanwhile, right behind me, a light pole kept powering up and shutting down, electrical spasms that made the road flash bright and dark all at once.
Let’s see what I can achieve here.
That’s a pretty moody shot, if I was going for a pretty moody shot. Ugh. Must keep trying.
I should also note that it was cold out. Probably 35°F at the most. I would spend 15 minutes in the car, then get out and take a photo or two. Then go back in the car for another 15 minutes.
Eventually, though, the skies went from cloudy to mostly cloudy to cloudy enough to distract in my photos. Any plans to garner a stitched montage of images just went into the latrine.
Well, while I’m here, let’s see if I can get a decent shot with this newfangled Google Pixel 6 Pro cell phone.
Here we go.
Okay. Impressive. At least this works.
Back to the Nikon Df.
And if I did at least claim one halfway decent eclipse photo out of this, it was the one below.
Okay. Now, let’s see if I can get to totality. The blood red moon as the earth blocks it from the sunlight.
Just a few more moments. Come on. My fingers are freezing. That granola bar I bought for the trip got stuck in my throat. And my sleep patterns were so jumbled up, there wasn’t enough Red Bull in Essex County to keep me fully functional.
Okay. Give me some hope here.
Okay. Another 15 minutes in the car. Tried to check my social media. No cell phone coverage. Wow, thanks Google Pixel 6 Pro.
Out for another photo.
Wait, what’s tickling my face?
I use my cell phone’s flashlight. And in that instant … I saw …
Holy mittsu no yuki, Batman.
Snowflakes. That means clouds covering up the skies. Again. Totality ruined. That’s just straight-up chickenshit, Mother Nature.
And in the end … I had no choice. At 4:30 a.m., I loaded the camera and the tripod back in the car, and drove home.
Well, that was some straight-up horseshit.
About five other forms of manure, guano and animal waste.
So what can I do in this situation? Not much. Treat this as a learning experience. You’re not guaranteed the photos you want. Just learn from your mistakes, and carry forward.
And there’s an upcoming lunar eclipse on May 15-16, 2022. Albany residents will see the eclipse as it goes from 9:30 pm to 2:50 a.m.
Barring cloud cover, of course.
And any other assorted animal leavings.