Total Solar Eclipse

Debuting on Earth Day - April 22nd, 2024


Total Solar Eclipse - 04.08.2024

Why E11even..?This composite image of the total eclipse on April 8, 2024... 

I don’t think I will ever have the proper words to describe the feeling of being in the path of totality during the total eclipse of April 8, 2024, but I will try.

At the risk of using an overused adjective ‘otherworldly’ is what comes to mind and is most fitting. The experience of being in the path of totality for the total eclipse of the sun truly was unlike anything I have witnessed in my lifetime. I truly understand how much meaning there is behind comments such as “once in a lifetime". It was unlike anything I’ve encountered in life. I and many others have used numerous adjectives to try and describe the indescribable. That being… the few minutes either side of totality, and the three minutes and thirty seconds we had of totality. Realistically speaking, it is something you must experience 1st hand to be able to fully appreciate. I now understand why eclipse chasers exist! It wasn’t just seeing the moon block out the sun and the metallic light emitting from the black hole sun, it was the feeling, the energy, the aura of the experience. The light just before and after totality was unlike any kind of light I have ever been bathed in. As a photographer and someone who deals with all kinds of ambient lighting and artificial lighting conditions, it is safe to say that the light emitted from the moments surrounding totality is unparalleled. Perhaps that is one of the aspects of being in the path of totality that makes it extra special, as nothing can replicate that kind of light or light source.

I spoke of the aura - the energy & feeling that filled the atmosphere of the day. Part of that aura was a wave of emotions coursing through me. It was an emotional response that I could never have been prepared for, in this, my first experience within the zone of totality.

I have tried here, and in my social media posts, to explain it as best I can. It is truly a challenge to put into words, as I have no other experience to compare it to. Perhaps the same sense as standing under a sky filled with 360-degree mind blowing dancing Northern Lights for hours on end... for the first time? What I do know…. this feeling I am left with is still buzzing inside of me as I complete write this caption one full week after the eclipse. Standing on the shores of Lake Eire, at that moment, empowered similar emotions like the birth of my nephew and getting to hold him moments after or my first encounter with a polar bear in the wild or first diving encounters with a great white shark and humpback whale, an off the chart night under and Aurora filled sky - breathtaking & incredibly memorable. Experiences and meetings that leave your mind and body filled with a strange type of adrenaline that is different from that typical adrenaline rush many of us experience from more ’normal’ everyday life experiences. Again, it is difficult to explain the unexplainable so, I should leave it at that!

A little ‘behind’ my total eclipse images for those of you who are wondering about them. My planning began over a year in advance of April 8, 2024. It began with thoughts of where will I go? How will I attempt shooting my first total eclipse? Who should I speak to that has experience in this area? What articles and videos can I watch to learn all I can about eclipses and how to photograph them? These were all part of the early planning stages. I am fortunate to have a friend who is also a professional photographer who just happened to chase a few eclipses in his day. He offered me some amazing insight and advice which helped lay a path to a successful day and alleviate much of the pressure I put on myself to not mess up this once in a lifetime opportunity. It was very helpful to learn from others mistakes ahead of time. This is the kind of situation where I can totally understand how with the time restraints, the literal short amount of time allotted for totality and, how not practicing or gear issues can well lead to an unwelcome outcome. There is much more to appreciate that goes far deeper than the surface of each eclipse image you see.
Living in London, Ontario, Canada I didn’t have far to travel to be in the path of totality, in fact just a 25-minute drive south, was the northern edge of the zone of totality. I knew from day one I was going to shoot from Lake Erie. My long-standing history shooting the lake and the success Lake Erie has bestowed on me, in my mind made it my first choice.

I ultimately chose to head to Long Point, ON. For those who aren’t familiar, Long Point is a sand spit that extends out into Lake Erie for about 40 km (25 mi) and is only about 1km (.62 mi) at its widest point. I have a very long history with Long Point dating back all the way to my childhood on the many fishing trips I took with my dad and late cousin who was a renowned fisherman in the region. Long Point is also ‘just up the lake’ from Port Stanley, Ontario, if that sounds familiar, it should! Port Stanley is the location I have shot the lake waves so many of you have come to know me by, so again, it was only fitting I shoot the solar eclipse from Lake Erie. A lake and location that holds a lot of meaning for me, a lake that I owe a great debt of gratitude towards.

By selecting to set up camp at Long Point, this gave me a window of three minutes and thirty seconds in the path of totality, only thirty seconds shy of maximum totality. That short period of time from a photographer’s point of view flew by, but at the same time for the awestruck human in me, it sure felt like a lot longer. I am grateful that time seemed to stand still or at least slow down for me. I also think that this is an ability I have learned to harness over the years. Slowing down real time seems to be a superpower (if I ever had one), very beneficial being a photographer! What also helped is the preparation, studying, listening to others past mistakes and successes, knowing my gear, practicing in advance and in the end, keeping it simple by not trying to do too much. I should also give a tip of my hat to Mother Nature who graced us with spectacular conditions in this region! Mind you, she played games with my head leading up. It was raining for part of the morning and heavily overcast until maybe 30 minutes before the eclipse began. In the end, we were blessed with amazing conditions to view and shoot in. You can plan all you want, for as long as you want - for events in our natural world, but it is Mother Nature who has the final say. In the end, we are at her mercy! I thank her for not only allowing us to witness this once in a lifetime event in ‘my' backyard, but for the window of opportunity to come away with some pretty incredible photographic memories. Speaking of once in a lifetime, I think that is what makes these memories and images so special to me, for it won’t happen again in this region in our lifetime. Yes, it is true that total eclipses happen every couple of years in various parts of the world, but unless you plan to travel or live a very long time, we won’t see another along this path for another 377 years!

I am sure by now you have seen multiple eclipse images. I wanted to remind you of this (which applies to any pro or serious hobbyist}. Each eclipse image you’ve seen, as similar as they might look to you, took days, weeks, months or years of planning, studying & practice. Each is as unique as the individual behind each camera and lens. Yes, you have seen & will see more eclipse images but, I am darn proud to say that these ones are mine! Special to me and perhaps special to you because maybe you know me, or perhaps you can relate or appreciate the year of planning that went into what you see pictured here. Or, maybe extra special because I photographed from the shores of Lake Erie and, like for so many millions of us - Lake Eire is home, our backyard or where you cottage and boating. Lastly, I am aware that many of you have expressed to me, you discovered my work from my Lake Erie - Liquid Mountain’s series - therefore eclipse images created at Lake Erie may hold a deeper meaning for you -just as they do for myself.
When you look at these images maybe you have your own story and experience from the eclipse that you can relate to through my images. Everywhere you went, everyone you spoke to, the eclipse was the hot topic. Many people from different countries, states, provinces, and territories, from all kinds of different cultures and walks of life traveled from near and far to bear witness to this uniquely rare celestial event. Did you take the day from work, skip school? Many across North America from the western shores of Mexico, across the United States, all the way to the northeastern tip of Newfoundland, Canada gathered with family and friends alike. I know one thing I took away from all that surrounded the total eclipse, that was a sense of community. For myself it had a similar feeling as going to an outdoor music festival and the sense of a united community that comes along with it. Even more so when totality hit… giving me chills, listening to the wave of cheers echo across the water from our temporary community that lined the crescent shaped beach. Eerily similar to that of a crowd cheering when the main act hits the stage and amphitheatre, only this was a much grander stage and the star of the show much larger. It was a great feeling and great to see so many of us brought together by a common bond - to be a part of a very distinctive day and time in natural history. Be it the temporary community that lined the shores of Long Point Beach, or the north and south shores of Lake Erie and all along the path of totality, the total eclipse of April 8th, 2024, united us all for one unforgettable day!

April 8th at 3:18 pm EST, in one split second, I understood why people chase eclipses around the world. Instantly, a new eclipse chaser was born in me.