Enter the code "ship free" at checkout for free shipping!!!
Totality: How the Solar Eclipse Took My Breath Away and How I Photographed It

Totality: How the Solar Eclipse Took My Breath Away and How I Photographed It

Monday was finally the big day. The solar eclipse was, without a doubt, one of the most awe-inspiring moments of my life. For one minute and forty-four seconds, the sun in the sky transformed into a bright, twinkling circle, and then, as quick as it came, returned to normal. My heart was inexplicably racing the entire time, and, once totality had passed, I sat and watched the receding partial eclipse wishing the moon would reverse direction. 

Time lapse gif of the eclipse
 Eclipse time lapse created from my photos.


On Sunday night, I sat anxiously refreshing the page on Weather.com, comparing my map of the path of totality with their satellite feed of storm fronts and cloud cover sweeping the middle of the country. After hours of wrestling with the decision of whether to make a road trip out of the AM hours before the eclipse, I settled on staying in the St. Louis area despite the risk of cloud cover and light rain. The day ended up being clearer than I could have hoped for, giving myself and around 200 other people at Babler State Park in Wildwood, Missouri a flawless front-row seat to the event.

Crowd example one

Crowd example two

 A couple shots of the crowd at Babler State Park in Wildwood, Missouri, seconds before totality. You can almost see the sky starting to darken.


After spending the last several months obsessing over the eclipse, I knew of several things to expect. The sky grew dark, as if it were sundown, and the air turned noticeably colder. I saw (and managed to photograph!) a Bailey’s Bead shine like a diamond on a ring as the corona came into view. I crossed my fingers in the air above my head to look at the crescents projected on the ground. But, even though I felt prepared, the eclipse still caught me by surprise.

Bailey's Bead
A Bailey's Bead at totality.


Eclipse through my fingers
My fingers creating crude pinhole cameras to project the partial eclipse.


I had read somewhere online that the difference between seeing a 99% partial solar eclipse and one at totality is roughly the same as the difference between reading the menu at a restaurant and eating the food. This couldn’t be more accurate. I was blown away by how bright just 1% of the sun is. Even until the moment just before totality the event was mostly unnoticeable without the help of a solar filter. And, once totality occurred, I was surprised to find that the corona was completely blocked by the solar glasses I had on, meaning that I missed the instant it reached totality and had to scramble to remove my telescope’s filter so that I could get a good shot.

I know people that were too busy or otherwise unable to leave southwest Missouri and drive north to watch totality who were hoping that 96% totality would be “close enough.” But, tragically, there is no such thing as "close enough" to totality. Though I knew there’d be a difference, I didn’t quite grasp that difference until I watched the whole thing unfold. I feel for anyone who was unable to witness it, and I urge everyone to make plans right now for the next North American total solar eclipse on April 8th, 2024.


Now for my photography setup.

Watching the eclipse through a telescope
 Me watching and photographing the eclipse through a telescope with a digiscope mount holding my phone up to the eyepiece.


Photographing the eclipse was quite the process, and one that I had to practice before the big day. Finding the sun through the telescope and then tracking it as it traveled across the sky definitely took me some getting used to. Once I knew what I was doing, though, I was stunned by how my photographs turned out. My set up included the following:


I think for the future I will save up for a DSLR camera so that I can capture the 2024 eclipse in greater detail and higher resolution. Even still, I couldn’t be prouder of the pictures I managed to snap.


I could probably write a book full of me gushing about this eclipse, but I think I’ll wrap it up here. Long story short, the eclipse took my breath away, and I’m already planning for seven years from now.


Feel free to share your own eclipse pictures or stories!


Written By: Jacob Monash


  • Jacob Monash

    Hey again Mike. I am not a physician by any stretch of the imagination. That sounds like it could be serious with your eye. I would 100% recommend getting that looked at by an optometrist. I hope your eye returns to normal!

  • Mike Hunt

    Hi! Me again. How was the Eclipse for you? The photo looks great! Can you send me a copy with your signature? I have a quick question about the sun and its effects on the human retina. I looked at the sun by accident for roughly 20 seconds before totality and now I have a dark circle in my vision in the upper right hand portion of my right eye. It is getting bigger every three days or so. Do you think it will go away? I am slightly concerned at this point, probably a 3.5/10 on the concerned scale. Who knows, maybe the sun seared my retina to the point of no return. Please advise. One love

Leave a comment