I take a break from (ir)regularly scheduled blogging by talking about last night. In the wee hours of Tuesday morning, i.e. December 21st, 2010, there was going to be a lunar eclipse. When I first heard about it, I wasn’t even sure what a lunar eclipse looked like, but I knew I would stay up to see it. My second thought was, I hope the weather is good. Come December 20th, I busied myself by checking the weather every hour. When I stepped out at around 8:00 pm, the moon was nowhere to be seen, it was that cloudy! I told myself that there were a few more hours to go and maybe the clouds would go away by then. At 9:30 pm, the moon was clearly visible and pretty low in the sky. I brought my camera out and fiddled with it. Now, I am not an expert with a camera on Manual mode, but the automatic mode was giving me a white dot with a black background. I tinkered with it for a while on manual mode and got a decent picture of the moon. I was thrilled. The evening was going to be fun!
But when I got out again at midnight, the sky was overcast! Rats! I still took my camera with me, hoping I would get a fluke of a shot. It took me some time to crane my neck backwards and look out for the moon because it was right above my head. When the clouds dispersed for a brief second, I saw the moon. It was now a different shape. Around 80% of its original size. “Hmph,” I thought to myself, “I am pretty sure it was full moon a while ago.” It was too late in the night for me to quickly understand, the eclipse was underway. I went back in, hoping the weather would change again.
At 1:00 am I finally stepped out to not come in until I had a few great shots. I parked myself on a lone chair on the tennis court in front of my house. I’m sure I looked like a pervert or a creep, but I didn’t care. The clouds were heavy, but I got a glimpse of the moon, and there was only a sliver of it left. I gasped. Thus began the battle of me vs. the clouds vs. the camera. I’d keep an eye out for a hole in the patch of clouds and aim for the sky, but by the time the camera could focus on the moon, it’d hide behind the clouds again. I’d groan and wait. This happened for almost an hour, my frustration getting worse by the minute. By now the moon was completely gone, and all I could see was a dark, copper-ish patch instead of it. It even got difficult to spot it in between the clouds. All my hopes of getting a stellar shot of the blood-red moon were smashed against the soft clouds. I was totally dejected. I kept my camera away and hung my neck backwards to look up at the sky.
This is my point, after this long ramble. Why are we so insistent on capturing every moment of our life on the camera? What makes us so stubborn and unrealistic? Many, many moons ago (pun intended), my father and I had similarly stayed up way past bedtime to see a meteor shower. We spotted eleven shooting stars and one plane! It was the best thing I’d ever done. And the experience was untainted by the need to photograph the event. A friend and I humorously talk about how just because everyone has a DSLR, everyone thinks they’re great photographers. I’m afraid I’m one of those fools! Last night was spectacular. I don’t remember the last time I’ve just sat and watched the clouds rush by in the wide open sky. It makes you feel so tiny in comparison. And the eclipse? It was, surely, a once in a lifetime experience. And rather than focusing on taking a picture, I’m glad I just sat back and saw it with my own eyes for a few minutes. That personal sensation is so valuable. And I hope I remember to take my surroundings in myself, before I let modern technology make a human bait out of me. Because that’s what we’ll all be, if we forget to use our senses to experience things.