RBA & AF Astrophotography

The Great Gig in the Sky (Lady of the lake)

Posted: August 29th, 2017

This is not a staged picture – the girl isn't posing – nor a fabrication, and I nearly improvised the shot, as I was in complete awe at the sight of totality. It's a 2 panes mosaic, one captured during totality – top pane – and then a second one taken exactly, by chance really, during the diamond ring effect as the Sun started to reappear, which adds the nice highlights to the image, giving also the image an enormous dynamic range. As for the story, here it goes…

There were no crowds on this beach at Phillips Lake, Oregon, an idyllic location at anytime. Just four strangers – a girl, two other guys and me – in a beautiful landscape otherwise void of people. It is Mother Nature and each of us, nothing else.

The moon hasn't started hiding the sun yet, when Jessica starts playing Pink Floyd's "Dark side of the moon". I don't mind. In fact, what else would one play? No one is talking, but the usual sounds of the morning by the lake blend well with the mellow but dramatic tunes of songs like "Time" or "The great gig in the sky"…

Then… as the sun is half way gone, she starts to walk into the lake quietly, just to her knees. Pink Floyd's still playing, perfect soundtrack, again. Totality is imminent. We know what's about to happen… except we don't.

The music ends but no one notices. The sky starts to darken. You catch a glimpse of a confused bird flying by over the lake. Your heartbeat is accelerating, you're breathing slowly and rushed. It gets cold, fast. And then, after a small breeze blows suddenly for a moment, a complete and chilling silence takes over. The whole scene… the lake, mountains, trees, the sky and us… Everything around us is at a frightening still, literally, in colors that don't belong. You're trembling.

Then, as you are there not trying to make a sense out of anything nor being able to make a move nor a sound just as everything else around you, within a split second the whole landscape falls apart right in front of you and then, unannounced, totality happens.

She now says, very slowly, with a broken voice, nearly whispering: "Oh my god…"

So did I.

Would you like to read other articles I've written? Here's a few interesting readings:

My 2017 Eclipse
The complete story of my 2017 Eclipse trip, including more details about the "gig" shot, other images I captured, and more.

Moonlit Firefalls @ Yosemite
Making-of my three "moonlit firefall" images. That's the famous Horsetail Fall in Yosemite, but unlike the well-known effect caused by sunlight, here the effect is caused by moonlight.

Clouds of Andromeda
Behind the scenes and a load of information about my image of the Andromeda Galaxy that also shows never-seen-before red-glowing hydrogen clouds "around" it.

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