Memories of a total eclipse on Falcondale Life blog. Friends share memories of watching a total eclipse of the sun, France 1999. How it feels to experience totality in a solar eclipse and enjoy local culture.

Last week I announced that our family is travelling to see a total eclipse of the sun in the USA. On Monday 21st August 2017 millions of people in parts of the USA will see the phenomenon. The eclipse will make landfall in a narrow strip from the Pacific northwest all the way to the Atlantic coast in South Carolina. We’ve been dreaming of seeing this total eclipse ever since we saw one in the Champagne region of France in 1999. I wrote my story in Views of a Total Solar Eclipse from France but I’ve also asked friends who were there for their memories too.

Andy got bitten the eclipse bug

“It was my second eclipse, because Graham and I had sort-of-unwittingly seen the one in Antigua a couple of years earlier. They remain among the most spectacular natural things I’ve ever seen. Absolutely jaw-dropping stuff. And you have the build-up of partial eclipse, and remember seeing those as a kid and being a bit underwhelmed. Even at 99% totality it all feels a bit like a normal day, but a little colder. And then suddenly everything changes.

The nerd in me wanted to see all the science-y things like the crescent shadows and the multiple shadows and to try and see Baileys Beads and all that. But in reality I just stood there gaping.

In France we were next to an old church, on a ridge, having a picnic. It seemed as fine a spot as any. Well, the previous one we saw on the beach in the Caribbean with a volcano erupting across the straits… which might have spoiled me a bit.

It may be that too much champagne has meant that I don’t recall much else. I remember a very good couscous restaurant, and everyone being in a really good mood all the time, and how much I enjoyed the whole thing. We finally made plans to see the 2017 one. I’d gotten a little shoulder-shruggy blasé I think, because I’d seen two, but now I’m like a little child again.”

Memories of a total eclipse on Falcondale Life blog. Friends share memories of watching a total eclipse of the sun, France 1999. How it feels to experience totality in a solar eclipse and enjoy local culture.

Simon got some perspective and some booze

“At the moment of totality I suddenly became overwhelmingly aware of perspective the huge scale of what I was witnessing and how small we are. We got a great view and the weather cleared just in time. The village itself may have been dull but what does that matter when all eyes are on the spectacle in the heavens?

Memories of the holiday that stand out: Knocking on the doors of champagne merchants more or less at random and (with our terrible French) buying bottles and bottles of the stuff to take home. Verdun and the Great War battlefields. Janet’s shopping expedition. Going out for a posh meal on our last night, getting somewhat boisterous and all the other diners frowning at us…

I’d like to see an eclipse again, but I wouldn’t travel halfway round the world for it. It didn’t turn me into an eclipse hunter.”

Memories of a total eclipse on Falcondale Life blog. Friends share memories of watching a total eclipse of the sun, France 1999. How it feels to experience totality in a solar eclipse and enjoy local culture. Watching and photographing a total solar eclipse in France 1999. The practical and emotional experience of seeing totality on a holiday with friends.

Alison soaked up the culture

“It was an incredible experience. I remember feeling very moved by “le retour de soleil” The chill in the air when the sun went in was also a moment when I felt that I was experiencing something very special. The quietness of the birds at the total eclipse was eerie. It didn’t matter at all to me where we were; it was the company that was important and the shared experience of being there with a group of friends. The clear view was important – it didn’t matter at all that we were by a road!

It was a great trip; I loved the tour of Mumm Champagne; the coolness of the cellars; the suggestive way the female tour guide removed the corks from the champagne. The trip to the top of Reims Cathedral also stood out for me as a highlight; at the top there were incredible carvings of wild boar. The Chagall Windows were beautiful too.

We went on a trip to the trenches as well; I had previously visited the Belgian trenches on a school trip; but these trenches had a very different feel; you were free to explore them on your own; you could go down tunnels and walk through the trenches. Wildlife had taken over and it was particularly poignant to see the beautiful trees and shrubs while trying to imagine the horror of what the trenches had been like during the war.

Janet – your impressive shopping trip – never have I seen a woman with quite as many shopping bags in a short afternoon! (Editor’s note: I deny it! I bought one pair of trousers, a top and a notebook!)

I would love to see another eclipse; and also to share it with my children. I have seen a partial eclipse since then; it didn’t have the impact!”

Memories of a total eclipse on Falcondale Life blog. Friends share memories of watching a total eclipse of the sun, France 1999. How it feels to experience totality in a solar eclipse and enjoy local culture.

Sally made great memories

“It was a truly unique and magical moment, I felt really at peace when in the stillness then with the swirling during the eclipse. I have great memories of just being on an adventure with friends.

The champagne was great (and now I can only drink the best!) The Chagall window at the church in Reims is something I will treasure seeing forever. I definitely wish I could take my kids to see a total eclipse when they are a bit older.”

Time has eclipsed Mik’s memory

“It was dark. I can’t remember where we were, it was nearly twenty years ago! It would be nice to see another eclipse.”

Memories of a Total Eclipse, Part 2 of a Travelogue on Falcondale Life blog. Watching and photographing a total solar eclipse in France 1999. The practical and emotional experience of seeing totality on a holiday with friends.

People see it differently

I am hugely grateful to these friends for sharing their memories. Eclipse hunters are very enthusiastic people and understandably so because it’s a spectacle that just cannot be matched. However I have met a few people who have seen totality once or twice and don’t feel the need to repeat it. These friends tend to be the type who like to do everything once. Nothing wrong with that. But at least they are happy that they saw it because a partial eclipse is far more common and nothing at all like totality.

“Get your ass to totality!”

Read the first part of this two-part travelogue – click here

 

 

#24 in the Judging a Photograph Series

.Adding Filters to Photos for unusual effects on Falcondale Life blog. Monochrome peacock. When to add Instagram or Lightroom filters to photos. Unusual artistic effects. Photographs of something instantly recognisable but viewed in a new light.

Last week in the “Judging a Photograph” blog series I talked about choosing when adding a presets or filters to a photo. I find that it only really works on simplistic images. Any photo with complex appeal is usually ruined by a filter, especially the fairly brutal Instagram ones. However I did also say there are exceptions and this photo of a peacock is the most striking one of mine.

Why Use Filters Now?

Now I know what you’re going to say; you’re going to say you prefer the original version in colour. I get it. It’s a beautiful bird and it makes me glad colour photography was ever invented. The problem is that this particular peacock was a tremendous show-off. It was strutting around the wildlife park picnic area for over an hour shaking its booty. I have about two hundred shots of the creature, and it was quite tame so many shots are close-ups.

Editing this many photos of one peacock eventually starts to grate a bit. So I played with filters and looked for something avant garde. I used the same filter as last week called Creative Split Tone 4 which I used on the pc version of Adobe Lightroom. I toned it down quite a lot and removed some of the vignette and most of the colour.

Adding Filters to Photos for unusual effects on Falcondale Life blog. Monochrome peacock. When to add Instagram or Lightroom filters to photos. Unusual artistic effects. Photographs of something instantly recognisable but viewed in a new light.

How Do I Know It’s A Success?

It works because the peacock has a distinctive pattern and a variety of texture. It demonstrates that a peacock’s beauty is not dependant on colour. If it makes you see something new in a familiar object, then I would argue this edit has some artistic merit.

Of course it works best if you have only seen this edited version. By showing you the original shot it ruins the impact. I did enter this photo in a competition and it was really satisfying that I managed to surprise the judge. He said various nice things about it, particularly that it was an unexpected image and he would never have thought of doing it. I am satisfied with that, even though it didn’t win a top place. I also entered another photo of this peacock in a different competition in it’s natural colours. It is no surprise to me that it was completely glossed over because a colour peacock is exactly what everyone expects to see. It can be rewarding to do produce something unexpected.

Adding Filters to Photos for unusual effects on Falcondale Life blog. Colour peacock. When to add Instagram or Lightroom filters to photos. Unusual artistic effects. Photographs of something instantly recognisable but viewed in a new light.

The colour version is an obvious beauty, but would you have seen it in the same way if you had never seen avant garde edit?

Read the Judging a Photograph Series from the start.

Read the next blog in the Judging a Photograph Series.

Photalife

 

We’re travelling to see a total eclipse of the sun in the USA. On Monday 21st August 2017 millions of people in the USA will see the moon completely obscure the sun. A stripe of shadow will pass across the land from the Pacific northwest all the way to the Atlantic coast in South Carolina.

This family holiday has been a very long time in the making, and it’s mainly happening because we have relatives in the USA to visit, but it’s almost here.

Watching and photographing a total solar eclipse in France 1999. The practical and emotional experience of seeing totality on a holiday with friends.

It’s just the lights going out, right?

I’ve found it a bit hard to convince some friends that it will be worth seeing. After all, it goes dark for two minutes in the middle of the day, and then it’s over. Most of my friends witnessed a very deep partial eclipse in the UK in 2015. That was impressive and the sun was covered around 90%. The day cooled, the birds went quiet. It went a little dim. However it wasn’t even dark enough to make reading a book hard and people who said it would be “like dusk” here in Yorkshire were proved wrong. It was not even a hint of what a total eclipse is like.

Champagne, France

I’ve seen a total eclipse before and I know what we are in for. In 1999 we travelled with a large group of friends on holiday to the Champagne region of France and witnessed a total eclipse. The trip was organised by Andy who had seen a previous total eclipse in the Caribbean and he knew how thrilling it would be. In any case, it was difficult to resist the idea of a holiday with friends, drinking champagne, eating French cheese, seeing the sights.

Watching and photographing a total solar eclipse in France 1999. The practical and emotional experience of seeing totality on a holiday with friends.

On that holiday we visited the eye-popping cathedral at Reims and paid to tour the Champagne caves of Mumm. We drove around little villages looking for signboards outside people’s homes. Where we saw one, we knocked on the farmhouse door and asked to buy Champagne from the growers. They invited us in to taste their homemade vintages and we purchased bargain bottles from the backs of their garages and barns. These farmhouse vintages are like no Champagne we had ever tasted before. It’s smooth, fruity and like a party in my mouth. I will never buy an ordinary supermarket Champagne again!

Waiting for Totality

On the day of the eclipse we drove to a nearby village on the centre line. It was an unremarkable, modern concrete place but there was a little green park area and we set up there. My husband had an old telescope and a large piece of white card. We used this to project the image of the sun onto the card and watched as the moon crept across making a crescent shape. We probably watched this for an hour, and used eclipse glasses to view the sun directly too. A few clouds came over and we became worried. Some of our group jumped in a car and drove a few miles further, hoping to get out from under the cloud, but a dozen of us stayed.

Views of a Total Eclipse from France, A Travelogue on Falcondale Life blog. Watching and photographing a total solar eclipse in France 1999. The practical and emotional experience of seeing totality on a holiday with friends.

The Sun in Eclipse

In the last minutes before totality, the light dropped quickly. The clouds dissolved. The street lamps came on; the birds went silent; the stars came out. I was watching through my eclipse glasses when the crescent vanished. Suddenly it went dark; I was completely blind. I whipped off my glasses and there it was: an insane halo of light around a black hole. The sunbeams were streaming out in every direction as if the sun was furiously screaming that it wanted to be seen. I turned to look at Natalie and I will never forget the look on her face of such complete astonishment, and I knew that my face reflected hers.

The halo of light was like blonde hair being electrocuted! You know a Van de Graaff generator will make your hair stand on end with static electricity? It was like that but far more rigid, and the beams were not all perpendicular to the sun. I have never seen a photo which does justice to this halo. It is extremely hard to photograph because of the high contrast between the black sky all around and the power of the sun, however well it’s hidden. I do think the 2017 USA eclipse will produce some great photos because there will be so many people and they will be using modern equipment.

Watching and photographing a total solar eclipse in France 1999. The practical and emotional experience of seeing totality on a holiday with friends.

Taking Photos of the Total Eclipse

In 1999 we were using colour film and a zoom lens which was only 105mm. The camera was a Canon 50E. We got three shots. When the film was developed in a high-street shop, they made prints for us which did not turn the sky completely dark and so the halo is just a smudge of light. I should probably find a pro lab to reprint them so I can see what is really on the negative.

The Return of the Sun

As the two minutes of totality ticked by, dots of light began to peep through the valleys at the edge of the moon. These are called Bailey’s beads and they are visible for split seconds. Then with a rush, it was light again. The darkness was gone in a breath.

When the light came back I experienced euphoria. I never knew before what that word really meant but it was powerful, delightful and crushing at the same time. Forty minutes later I was mentally and emotionally exhausted and asleep in my hotel. I woke that evening and just sobbed. I remember my husband was in a black mood. It really messed with our heads.

We got over it in no time and enjoyed the rest of our holiday. It wasn’t until after we had booked our trip to see the 2017 eclipse that I really thought about how my children might feel to see it. They might be scared silly. So I thought I would speak to my friends from that 1999 trip and see if their memories are reassuring. Come back next week to read what they said about the Eclipse and their memories of this trip to France.

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Lou Messugo

#23 in the Judging a Photograph Series

.Choosing when to add a filter to photographs on Falcondale Life blog. Threave Castle, Scotland. Use apps like Instagram. Search for the best filter. Will people like it, will it stand out or increase engagement? Develop a style and identify the right kind of photo for a filter. Lightroom presets, how they work and looking at colour overlays.

Sometimes I wonder why so many of us put a filter on our photos before posting online. We scroll through apps like Instagram searching for the best filter without really knowing if other people will like it. A popular Instagram filter might increase engagement. On the other had it might have the effect of making it look the same as everyone else’s picture, and then it doesn’t stand out.

General Editing Tips

The best advice I can offer is to practice small adjustments with all the editing tools that you have to hand, in whatever app you use. An adjustment of just 10% on each slider for brightness, saturation, shadows, or contrast etcetera will make a huge difference – possibly too much. You want to be tweaking – not obliterating – your exposure. Instagram filters can also be added in degrees, and often just a little bit is enough.

Soon, with a bit of practice, you find your personal style and it becomes part of your self-expression. One really positive thing about Instagram seeing people develop as artists. Yes, I mean you! Everyone is capable of artistic expression and Instagram is one very easy channel for practising that.

Choosing when to add a filter to photographs on Falcondale Life blog. Threave Castle, Scotland. Use apps like Instagram. Search for the best filter. Will people like it, will it stand out or increase engagement? Develop a style and identify the right kind of photo for a filter.

Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom

If you have access to Photoshop or Lightroom you can also import filters that do the same thing. Of course there is a bigger range of filters in the Adobe software. Also there are plenty of websites that sell plugins for even more. Personally I don’t like the loss of control with these filters, but I have to admit I’ve learned some tricks from them.

Lightroom, if you don’t know it, is photo developing software. In the old days of film, someone in the back room at the local chemists shop would alter exposure and adjust colour and contrast for you when s/he printed your photos. Now we have the slog of doing that ourselves if the image needs it.

In Lightroom there is a vast array of adjustment tools and usually I don’t use half of them. I can see where all the adjustments have been made with these presets (filters). Often creative presets are based on colour overlays.

Threave Castle

Choosing when to add a filter to photographs on Falcondale Life blog. Threave Castle, Scotland. Use apps like Instagram. Search for the best filter. Will people like it, will it stand out or increase engagement? Develop a style and identify the right kind of photo for a filter.This photo of the river crossing at Threave castle stood out for me because the boat seems to appear out of a circle of shimmering brightness in the centre. It’s a pretty scene but not stand-out. As there is really only one thing going for it, it’s an ideal candidate for a filter with a strong effect. This Lightroom preset is a purple overlay with high contrast and strong vignette. It’s called creative split tone 4. It certainly splits opinion, and like marmite some love it and some hate it.

 

Getting The Same Effect in Instagram

Choosing when to add a filter to photographs on Falcondale Life blog. Threave Castle, Scotland. Use apps like Instagram. Search for the best filter. Will people like it, will it stand out or increase engagement? Develop a style and identify the right kind of photo for a filter. Instagram editing adjustments.

I did try to use Instagram to get the same effect with partial success. Here are my settings: Brightness 10%, Contrast 43%, Warmth minus 68%, Saturation 64%, Colour shadows purple 51%, Fade 100%, Shadows minus 37%, Vignette 96%.

Choosing When to Use a Filter

Preset filters are linear, one-dimensional concepts in art. Each filter takes your image firmly in one direction and one direction only. That’s why I think there’s no point using a filter on an image with more complex appeal. What I mean is, if your photo has (for example) lovely light plus great colour and an interesting subject, then probably there’s already too much going on for it to benefit from a filter.

This is no hard and fast rule! It’s not a rule at all really, but an analysis. Who knows what may happen if you experiment? In fact, I’ve broken my “rule” once with great success and I’ll save that for a future blog post.

Read the Judging a Photograph series from the start by clicking here

Photalife

Three awesome beauty products June Roundup on Falcondale Life blog. Discover the foundation of Hollywood stars with Oxygenetix, a pearlescent face masque with Glam Glow and gorgeous makeup brushes from Indy Luxe, with exclusive discount code.

I am always on the lookout for really good quality beauty and health products, as you will know if you read my May 2017 beauty roundup blog post. This month I have three more gorgeous beauty treats for you.

Oxygenetix – Oxygenating Foundation

Oxygenetix breathable foundation review on Falcondale Life blog. Make-up worn by A-list celebrities in Hollywood movies. Foundation scientifically created by plastic surgeons. Flatlay.

I call this my hot girl foundation. Not because I transform into a hot girl when I wear it especially! No, it’s because this is designed to stay on my face and keep my pores breathing. That means I can wear it when I am getting some hot and sweaty exercise. Unfortunately I’ve been banned from running with my dodgy foot, so I am still waiting to put this aspect to the test. I am one of those fair skin people who looks red as a beetroot after exercise so I usually do wear makeup.

Applied with a clean sponge, Oxygenetix gives light and even coverage. However applied with fingertips I discovered that I could use it as a concealer. Applying it a little more thickly with a fingertip still looks and feels lightweight. It is matte and requires no powder on top. A real one-pot solution.

Oxygenetix breathable foundation review on Falcondale Life blog. Make-up worn by A-list celebrities in Hollywood movies. Foundation scientifically created by plastic surgeons. Squeeze a little onto your hand.

Oxygenetix claims to be the most breathable foundation on the market. This is a foundation worn by A-list stars and I am so lucky to be trying it out. It has become a favourite for Hollywood movies as it stays put so well, plus it’s suitable for the most sensitive skin. It is especially created to be sweat and water resistant so I’m very glad to have it ready for when I can run again. Also my fair skin is happy about the SPF of 25. It retails at £45.

Glam Glow Gravity Mud – Masque

Glam Glow Face Masque review on Falcondale Life blog. Apply Glam Glow face mask and peel off when dry. Beauty roundup. Product flatlay.

I don’t use face masks frequently but this one has great reviews and Glam Glow have a loyal following of fans. This purple packaged gravity mud mini comes as part of a multipack “multimasking” or it’s also available as a 40ml tub. The look of it is quite amazing, all silvery metallic and makes me feel like a cool space alien! It’s impossible not to enjoy the experience. The fragrance is like sherbert and my daughter thinks it smells like love hearts!

Glam Glow Face Masque review on Falcondale Life blog. Apply Glam Glow face mask and peel off when dry. Beauty roundup. Face masque selfies.

The masque colour brightens as it dries then after about 10 minutes it peels off or dissolves in water. My skin felt firmer and fresh, and I would definitely use it before a special event or night out. A 40ml tub is £39.

Indy Luxe Makeup Brushes – and Discount Code!

Indy Luxe Rainbow Makeup brushes on Falcondale Life blog. Review with discount code. Cruelty-free and vegan friendly makeup brushes.

Well hot dang it all, these are sooooo pretty! It’s no wonder Indy Luxe brushes have quickly become so desirable and well-known. Available in bright rainbow colours or rose gold, a whole set of these stunning brushes retails at just £24 plus postage. Get 20% off with my discount code FALCONDALELIFE20 – enter at their checkout. The brushes are cruelty free and vegan friendly too.

Sold as a full set, you have one of everything you need. That includes a fan brush of the kind I only use for highlights on a night out. I’ve never managed to justify buying a good one before. There’s one included in this set, which is great. With plenty of different sizes and shapes from large to small, bushy to pointy, it really is a comprehensive set. Indy Luxe would make an impressive looking gift, too.

Disclosure: I was kindly sent some of these products for the purposes of this review. Use of the discount code will return a small commission which helps pay for the running of this website. Despite this all opinions of the products are independently my own.