Don’t sleep in on August 21st because you may miss a once in a lifetime opportunity! I’m sure you’ve heard by now about the solar eclipse that will be moving across the united states next month, but if you’re planning to try and see it, are you all ready?
As a photographer, I’m definitely excited to see this but I’m a little concerned because most the people I have talked to about it have no idea how insane it might get with all the visitors expected to come to Oregon. So I’ve created this blog post with all the info that I can find about the eclipse, from traffic to safe viewing to photo tips. Read on if you want to be informed and prepared!
P.S. There may be random photos of my kids acting crazy throughout this post. I thought it would be a fun break between reading 😉
From what I can gather, no one knows exactly how bad the traffic will be; they can only make predictions. But keep in mind that there hasn’t been a solar eclipse in the United States in 38 years, and that one only barely passed by the PNW. For some, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity, so lots of people are going to try and get in the path of totality.
It is predicted that about one million visitors are expected to come to Oregon for the eclipse. That’s a crazy number, especially when all those people are going to be trying to get within the path of totality. Portland is just above that path, so I’m sure there will be lots of travelers coming through. The oregon.gov website says “Since August is already prime vacation season in many areas of the state, expect nearly everything to be above capacity for nearly a week total.”
Anyone else thinking about staying home for an entire week or is it just me?
It is suggested that you get to your destination at least one day before the eclipse, but preferably two. Stay off the road on the morning of the eclipse, even super early in the morning. Main freeways within and just outside of the path of totality are expected to be parking lots. For hours.
Being Prepared – Gas, Food, etc.
It is suggested that you stock up on food and water a week before the eclipse. Because of all the visitors expected, stores may run low. Plus, no one wants to make a trip to the store in all the traffic if they don’t have to, especially if you have kids with you. Just stock up early, and probably enough for 2 weeks just to be safe.
If you do drive anywhere in the days surrounding the eclipse, make sure you have plenty of food, water, and car activities for the kids just in case. And toilet paper!
Fill up your gas tank a few days before the eclipse. I’m sure gas stations are going to be a nightmare. Top it off whenever possible.
Oregon.gov says that there may be an issue with “potential challenges with credit/debit card transactions taking longer than usual because of increased volumes” so you may want to have cash with you to avoid any issues.
Cell phone use may be spotty because so many people will be in the area. It may be hard to place calls, especially at the time of the eclipse so don’t rely on your phone that day. If you are going out with friends or family, decide on a meeting spot if you get separated.
Nasa has a great web page set up with all the info you need to keep your eyes safe while looking at the eclipse. Basically, you need special eclipse sunglasses or handheld solar viewers in order to look at the sun during the event and regular sunglasses will not do. Only when the moon is completely covering the sun can you take the glasses off and look. Otherwise, those glasses need to be on, even at 99% totality. This website shows you what to look for while watching so you know when it’s safe to remove your glasses and when to put them back on.
Nasa’s website says, “…four manufacturers have certified that their eclipse glasses and handheld solar viewers meet the ISO 12312-2 international standard for such products: Rainbow Symphony, American Paper Optics, Thousand Oaks Optical, and TSE 17.” So make sure you get one of those 4 brands to be sure you’re protecting your eyes! Get your glasses now before they run out! Seriously, they may run out if you wait until August. Here is a link to the 5 pack of solar glasses on Amazon sold by Thousand Oaks Optical that I bought. But there are 10 packs and more also available on Amazon being sold by the 4 certified companies that I listed above. Just do a search and pay attention to the seller names.
You can also make your own Printable Pinhole Projectors using this tutorial from Nasa’s website.
Taking photos of the eclipse
I know a lot of people are going to want to take photos of the eclipse but you need to be safe while doing this. Depending on your camera, you might need a solar filter so you don’t damage it. Even if your camera can safely take a photo of the sun, you still WANT a solar filter so your photos turn out better. You can actually just put an extra pair of solar glasses in front of your smartphone camera, if you want. During totality, you can take all filters off, but once again, even at 99% totality, those filters need to go back up! Get more photography tips and safety info here.
To deal with the traffic and see the eclipse in totality or not?
This is the real dilemma. As a Portlander, we can still see the eclipse at 99% totality, as I posted about just the other day when I shared this link. So we could seriously just stay home and view the eclipse from our backyard, rooftop, or a nearby hill and not have to deal with traffic at all. BUT, I have been reading up on this, and that 1% makes a huge difference. The Oregon live website says “even the smallest sliver of sunlight can make the sky up to 10,000 times brighter, which means viewers won’t see the spectacular display of the sun’s corona, the main attraction during a total eclipse.” The corona is apparently one of the most beautiful things you can see in the sky, so they say. You can see where a lot of people may be torn and might make the last minute decision to drive into Salem or somewhere along the path of totality. Don’t let that be you! Have plans ahead of time and don’t get stuck on the freeways for hours on end.
What are your plans for the solar eclipse? Still deciding, or did you make plans a long time ago? Let me know in the comments!
I’ll either stay at my Dad’s house just inside the path of totality for a couple nights, or just hike to the top of Powell Butte (which is basically my backyard) and not have to deal with any traffic at all. I can’t decide!!!
Article written by Rebecca Lueck of Becca Jean Photography, a playful and lighthearted family photographer based in Portland, Oregon specializing in portraits that are fun and authentic. Check out her website to see her work or to book a session: Becca Jean Photography