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  1. Arts & Entertainment

Behind the lens: Shooting a total eclipse in Clemson SC became 'A Great Night in the Afternoon'

Published Aug. 25, 2017

I have been very fortunate to have a photojournalism career that has given me opportunities to make interesting photo images. The recent total eclipse of the sun was one such event.

I knew Clemson University was in the path of totality and I knew they were expecting a big gathering for their Eclipse over Clemson event. In addition, a former colleague and friend of mine, Jim Melvin, is the director of public communications and marketing for the College of Science.

When I got in touch with Jim he graciously added me to the media list and gave me tips as to where the crowds would be, where to park and how to get around campus.

I told my former boss at the Tampa Bay Times, Boyzell Hosey, who is the assistant managing editor for photography/multimedia that I was going there to see what I could get. He said he would be interested in photos.

I will fast forward to Clemson and the actual event.

The eclipse on Monday, Aug 21 started at 1:07 p.m. and ended at 4:02 p.m. Totality started at 2:37 p.m. and lasted for two minutes and 37 seconds. I arrived on campus early to get a parking spot as the school was expecting a large crowd of people for the event. The school estimated that 50,000 came to the campus.

I was on campus at 9 a.m. and had a lot of time to kill. Those five hours and thirty seven minutes dragged on. But, as the sun started getting dimmer many things started happening quickly. It was getting darker, cooler and breezy. About five minutes before totality the announcer told the crowd where to look to see Jupiter and Venus. On the horizon for 360 degrees around me it looked as if the sun had set and that special twilight had appeared. A strange and almost eerie light enveloped the crowd as the sun got dimmer. A hush enveloped the crowd; some whispered but most were silent. When the moon covered the entire sun, the crowd oohed and then cheered for a few seconds before going quiet again. It was dark; dark enough that one could not make out the faces of people nearby. The two minutes and thirty seven seconds passed quickly and then totality was over. People stood and applauded as the afternoon light returned. I have never been among a standing ovation for a celestial event.

I have not in my lifetime experienced anything like what I had been a part of. I have seen several lunar eclipses, but this was totally different. This was way off the senses gauge and unlike anything I have ever experienced. I felt emotions like never before, and I remembered things both good and bad from my lifetime. I wept, but the tears were joyful ones.

What a great day it was, and, for a little over two and a half minutes, it was a great night in the afternoon.

(Bill Serne | Special to the Times)

8.21.2017. Clemson, SC. Part of the crowd assembled on campus to watch the eclipse. At Clemson University, a solar eclipse viewed near the science building and the library.

(Bill Serne | Special to the Times)

8.21.2017. Clemson, SC. Part of the crowd assembled on campus to watch the eclipse. At Clemson University, a solar eclipse viewed near the science building and the library.

(Bill Serne | Special to the Times)

8.21.2017. Clemson, SC. Using a telescope to project the image of the eclipse. At Clemson University, a solar eclipse viewed near the science building and the library.

(Bill Serne | Special to the Times)

8.21.2017. Clemson, SC. Making a photo of the eclipse with a cellphone. At Clemson University, a solar eclipse viewed near the science building and the library.

(Bill Serne | Special to the Times)

8.21.2017. Clemson, SC. Using a telescope to project the image of the eclipse. At Clemson University, a solar eclipse viewed near the science building and the library.

(Bill Serne | Special to the Times)

8.21.2017. Clemson, SC. Making a photo of the eclipse with a cellphone. At Clemson University, a solar eclipse viewed near the science building and the library.

(Bill Serne | Special to the Times)

8.21.2017. Clemson, SC. As the eclipse is going on, one person couldn't stay awake. At Clemson University, a solar eclipse viewed near the science building and the library.

(Bill Serne | Special to the Times)

8.21.2017. Clemson, SC. As the eclipse is going on, one person couldn't stay awake. At Clemson University, a solar eclipse viewed near the science building and the library.

(Bill Serne | Special to the Times)

8.21.2017. Clemson, SC. Moon crescents in the shadows on a sidewalk. At Clemson University, a solar eclipse viewed near the science building and the library.

(Bill Serne | Special to the Times)

8.21.2017. Clemson, SC. Moon crescents in the shadows on a sidewalk. At Clemson University, a solar eclipse viewed near the science building and the library.

(Bill Serne | Special to the Times)

8.21.2017. Clemson, SC. Viewing the eclipse. At Clemson University, a solar eclipse viewed near the science building and the library.

(Bill Serne | Special to the Times)

8.21.2017. Clemson, SC. Viewing the eclipse. At Clemson University, a solar eclipse viewed near the science building and the library.

(Bill Serne | Special to the Times)

8.21.2017. Clemson, SC. At Clemson University, a solar eclipse viewed near the science building and the library.

(Bill Serne | Special to the Times)

8.21.2017. Clemson, SC. At Clemson University, a solar eclipse viewed near the science building and the library.

(Bill Serne | Special to the Times)

8.21.2017. Clemson, SC. Deepraj Sarmah takes a selfie with his cell phone of him and his friends. At Clemson University, a solar eclipse viewed near the science building and the library.

(Bill Serne | Special to the Times)

8.21.2017. Clemson, SC. Deepraj Sarmah takes a selfie with his cell phone of him and his friends. At Clemson University, a solar eclipse viewed near the science building and the library.

(Bill Serne | Special to the Times)

8.21.2017. Clemson, SC. The moon in front of the sun during the eclipse. At Clemson University, a solar eclipse viewed near the science building and the library.

(Bill Serne | Special to the Times)

8.21.2017. Clemson, SC. The moon in front of the sun during the eclipse. At Clemson University, a solar eclipse viewed near the science building and the library.

(Bill Serne | Special to the Times)

8.21.2017. Clemson, SC. The sun emerges from behind the moon after totality. At Clemson University, a solar eclipse viewed near the science building and the library.

(Bill Serne | Special to the Times)

8.21.2017. Clemson, SC. The sun emerges from behind the moon after totality. At Clemson University, a solar eclipse viewed near the science building and the library.

To download or order reprints of any of these images, please see our Eclipse 2017 photo gallery.

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