Everyone photographs the Eiffel Tower. That's fine if you want mementos of your vacation. But if you're looking to photograph something that's going to stand apart, you'd be hard pressed to do something that hasn't been done twenty times before. It happens. But it's the rare artist that can create a new vision there. Charleston, South Carolina is a beautiful and extremely photogenic place. It's gardens, historic sites, architecture and people offer a huge amount of subject matter. Of course, we also have our own figurative Eiffel Towers. There are places that have been photographed to no end. No.. literally. There seems to be no end to it.
The Ravenel Bridge is one of those places. It's not nearly as well known or frequently photographed as the Eiffel Tower but, when people come to Charleston, chances are pretty good they'll be sure to get the Ravenel Bridge. And, like the Parisian monument, it's getting harder and harder to do something new with it. It happens. But it's increasingly rare to see that picture of the bridge that makes you go, "Whoa!". Personally, I try and stay away from photographing it. It is a beautiful thing and it's hard not to point your lens in that direction. But that's really part of the problem, isn't it? Everybody else thinks the same thing.
With all the excitement about the upcoming solar eclipse in August, there are loads of people who are excitedly getting ready to view the phenomenon as well as photograph it. It's a total eclipse that is cutting it's way across North America. Charleston is nearly in the center of the path. But it wasn't something that really drew me. I've got enough on my plate learning to take better pictures of things that happen all the time. I just don't want to spend the cycles on solar photography.
Still.. the other night, after seeing several pieces of email about how I need to hurry up and get my gear for the upcoming eclipse, I found myself giving it some thought. I considered getting a quality solar filter. One thing I absolutely believe is that you have to be super careful about having the right filters to avoid damaging the camera. More importantly, if you have any interest in looking at the eclipse, you have to make sure you get the right filters for your eyes as well. This would not be the place to scrimp! Not if you value your camera or vision. I'm fairly partial to both.
I looked through the info, gadgets and gizmos for a little while like a child browsing the toy section of a department store catalog. Gadgets are fun. But that voice in the back of my head kept reminding me that I really should be spending what little semi-disposable cash I have on some fast and sharp glass that will net better pictures when I'm not aiming my camera at the sun, which is pretty much.. always.
And then there's the Eiffel Tower. I started thinking about how many solid professionals.. people with far more experience, talent and better gear.. will be out there taking pictures of the eclipse. Not to mention everyone else who needs to capture a solar eclipse and Snapchat it to the world. Chances are fairly good that, while most of those pictures will be okay, a handful of artists will create truly amazing images. At the end of the day, we won't be lacking for eclipse images. I think, ultimately, the type of photography I want to do is art. Art should be fueled by passion. While shooting the eclipse might be a unique technical challenge and opportunity, I'm just not passionate about it. Intrigued, perhaps. But not passionate.
So enjoy the eclipse. Be safe! I hope you get great shots and do amazing things with them. I'm not going to play this round. I'll see the eclipse. But I've decided that it won't be through the camera. (Although, I might have my camera going while everyone else is wearing funny goggles and staring into the sky. That might make for some interesting shots.) Maybe, just to be different in celebration of the event, I'll spin up Pink Floyd's Dark Side Of The Moon and turn it up to 11.. or watch the Wizard of Oz or something.