Photographers' Blog

Beijing screens darkened by solar eclipse

July 24, 2009

Hundreds of images rushed into our picture editing system within 2 hours of the start of business on July 22, 2009 and kept flashing across our monitors all day long. The screens all seemed to be filled with nearly black rectangles: a technical problem? No. What was happening? Simple! All the pictures were of a total solar eclipse. Most of the images were just black.

A combination picture shows the sequence of a total solar eclipse as observed in Chongqing municipality July 22, 2009. The longest total solar eclipse of the 21st century began its flight on Wednesday across a narrow path of Asia, where it was expected to darken the skies for millions of people for more than six minutes in some places. REUTERS/Stringer

Ahead of the longest total solar eclipse of the 21st century, staff photographers and dozens of stringers were positioned along the route of the blackout across central and eastern China. The first picture showing people holding welding masks to view the sun jumped onto our system around 8:30am, even before the eclipse started, but it was a bright picture and striking image. Then, as the moon gradually passed between the earth and sun blocking more and more light, the image tones got darker and darker. At 9:40am local time, the Yangtze Valley had gone dark and my screen showed this:

This is how I experienced the solar eclipse in front of my computer screen at the Beijing Pictures Desk… only a few minutes after the live show on TV, but in the same sequence. Bright, dark, black, a glimmer and oh…bright again…
 
What was also great to see was the way so many photographers interpreted the same scene in so many different and often amusing ways, despite the flood of plain pictures of the sun.

As local media said, next time we – or rather our descendants – witness such a phenomenon, a six-minute-long total eclipse in China, will be 500 years from now. The Chinese nation went crazy over it. Specialised solar viewing glasses and filters soon sold out, but this did not deter others from trying to watch it safely nor affect the enthusiasm of local residents. Ingenious thinking led to the use of other improvised tools to try and observe the eclipse without damaging eyes…

A man uses a piece of smoked glass to observe a solar eclipse in Baokang, Hubei province July 22, 2009. A total solar eclipse began its flight on Wednesday across a narrow path of Asia, where it was expected to darken the skies for millions of people for more than six minutes in some places. REUTERS/Stringer (CHINA)

A boy uses a piece of smoked glass to observe a solar eclipse in Tianjin municipality July 22, 2009. A total solar eclipse began its flight on Wednesday across a narrow path of Asia, where it was expected to darken the skies for millions of people for more than six minutes in some places. REUTERS/Vincent Du (CHINA)

Residents use welding masks to watch the solar eclipse in Chongqing municipality July 22, 2009. A total solar eclipse began its flight on Wednesday across a narrow path of Asia, where it was expected to darken the skies for millions of people for more than six minutes in some places. REUTERS/Stringer (CHINA)  

A resident uses a pair of self-made eye protection glasses to observe a partial eclipse in Shenzhen, Guangdong province July 22, 2009. A total solar eclipse began its flight on Wednesday across a narrow path of Asia, where it was expected to darken the skies for millions of people for more than six minutes in some places. REUTERS/Stringer (CHINA)

It was a busy morning at the Beijing Pix Desk editing hundreds of images, but now its over I am little sad that the next time this happens, 500 years from now, I will be resting, hopefully peacefully…

Comments
3 comments so far | RSS Comments RSS

Jin. very funny story.China must be only place which could see these vast commotions about this solar eclipse

Posted by Kim , your brother | Report as abusive
 

Great photos! Thanks.I participated in a worldwide meditation during the eclipse. Our intent was to use the balancing energies to create the space for envisioning a world of love that works for all. For more information on the meditation visit http://www.soaringinlight.com/solar_ecli pse_2009.

 

Love the pix from China. I think Rob’s meditation must have filtered through and helped you balance your engergies

Posted by Russell | Report as abusive
 

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