The 1999 meta-eclipse

On 11th August 1999 there was a total eclipse of the sun which ran through Cornwall on the south-westernmost end of England through several European countries including France, Romania and Turkey (from whence it was allegedly a spectacular sight) and ended somewhere in the Indian Ocean off Karachi (India). For this historic event, which happens roughly once a century in Britain, I travelled down to Cornwall to the Lizard Festival with my brother. Here, in typical English fashion, the weather decided to eclipse the eclipse. I thus present to you a set of photo-essays recording this event starting with the poetically titled 'pictures of clouds'. Larger copies are available on request. Apologies for the accompanying 'holiday photo monologues' but its up to you whether or not you read them or just look at the pictures :-)

Pictures of Clouds

The following photos were taken from the campsite at the Lizard's festival in Cornwall. The Lizard is the southernmost point in England. While the festival was pretty good it attracted much less than the 10,000 people expected and unfortunately the main organising company went bankrupt. This isn't really surprsing as Cornwall started off with hundreds of campsites listed in the ordinary road atlases. With the advent of the eclipse, it seemed like every land-owner in the region had opened some kind of impromptou festival or campsite of their own. Probably with rates a lot less than the cost of festival tickets. However, everybody stayed on until after the eclipse despite some not being paid. I'd especially like to raise a glass to the crew and performers of the 'comedy tent' who first gave us the dire news but carried on regardless (until after the eclipse anyway). These photo's were taken without any kind of filter, as the clouds rendered it unnecessary. Still the filter may still prove useful at a later date in photographing sun-spot activity.

My Best Eclipse Photo!
My Best Eclipse Photo

Next Best
Another Cloudy Photo near totality

More clouds!
More clouds
Blue Sky
A Reminder of what blue sky looks like

A Tree

Since the sun was proving to be something of a disappointment I decided to take some pictures of a tree to see if there would be anything noteworthy.

Tree before eclipse
A tree near the campsite before the eclipse

Tree during eclipse
The same tree during the eclipse

Tree during eclipse enhanced
The tree during the eclipse after manipulating brightness
and contrast to better match what it actually looked like
(with only limited success)
The Cloudy Campsite
A picture of the campsite, complete with cloud cover

A Castle

None of these pictures was really as dark as they appear. They were taken by me with a 35mm SLR camera with a built in light meter that normally gives me excellent results. The dimness of the images is down to the developing process as the following photographs taken later the same day illustrate. I took the film to a proper camera shop to be developed and they sent it on to Kodak. So much for my special instructions. It was actually just a pretty typical overcast day as the following photo's of a castle in Mullion help show.

Extreme Close Up
The castle with zoom lens and x3 telephoto convertor

The castle with just the zoom lens

Wide Angle
The castle and causeway taken from the beach
with a wide angle lens

Bright Sunny Pictures

The days following the eclipse were sunny as indeed were the days preceding it. In fact only the day of the eclipse itself was cloudy. Thank you, oh so much, the British climate. Just to prove that I can take photos here are a couple taken with the same camera on a sunnier day on a properly developed film.

A Scenic Picture
A sea-cliff landscape
A Scenic Picture
Church Cove

There is a story associated with the above pictures and a complete film that was sadly loaded incorrectly due to a dodgeyness of my camera. It can let you wind on and increments the picture number as if a film is in there without the film moving. You only notice when the number exceeds the number of pictures on the film :-(. The next cove over from Church Cove (to the east) has a lovely secluded beach. Getting there is a bit of a problem however. From the cliff top you can walk round to the 'new' lifeboat station (which replaces the old one based at Lizard Point) or along the cliffs in the other direction. Rumour had it that there was a steep path down to the beach via a trail rope. We could see a few people there so we knew it wasn't impossible to reach. We couldn't find the trail though. So like fools we scrambled down the cliff at a reasonably shallow incline (60 degrees as opposed to 90), just as I can imagine seeing on some crappy rescue program or an episode of casualty just before something nasty happens. Having made our way to sea level without breaking any limbs we then proceeded to climb around the rocks to the beach. This involved going knee deep into the sea (it would have been scuba time at high tide). Having just made it to the beach we spotted some people coming down the trail rope. If I'd loaded the film properly this little adventure would be the subject of a photo-study on futily entitled 'Doh!'. It wasn't really surprising we missed the trail though. On the back way up we found it almost completey overgrown. Hats off to the national trust for going to the trouble of providing the trail rope whilst allowing the trail itself to remain completely obscured.

What we missed

In case you are wondering what you missed (and what I messed )-: here are some scans of the real thing. These are taken from postcards of photos copyright Fred Espenak. Needless to say, I cannot legally pass on full sizes scans of these. In fact I will remove the small scans from this site immediately if so requested. However, I ask the copyright holder to look upon this as free advertising rather than kicking up a fuss :-).

The Sun's Corona
The Sun's Corona

The Sun's Corona with diamond ring effect
Corona with Diamon Ring effect

Isophote of the sun's Corona
Isophote (false colour image) of the sun's corona

Commercial End

On a final note I'd like to mention Land's End. Since we were in the neighbourhood we decided to visit this tourist spot. On your way there you will pass the 'last tavern in England'. A short way further on you will pass another pub who's name I forget. Finally on arriving at Land's End, more properly termed 'Commercial End', you will find a hotel and several other 'attractions' which will make you wonder whether the Americans have invaded. Although the scenery is quite nice the atmosphere is totally ruined by this disgusting touristy carbunkle. If you want to travel to the edge of England you are much better off going to Lizard Point. It is still touristy but in a way that looks much less out of place.

Commercial End
Land's End behind (most of) the disgusting touristy bit

A Lighthouse at Land's End
A Lighthouse off Land's End (its by the rocks in the sea).
Note the seagull perched on a rock in the foreground.
This image would have been improved by not using the wideangle lens :-)
Closeup of the Lighthouse
A closeup of the lighthouse