Saturday, April 16, 2011

Chasing Luna

I’ve never been much of an astronomy guy. I’ve always been earthbound most of my life and it’s the riotous colors of nature that spellbinds me in the rare moments I grow tired of the monotonous cadences that dictate my life. But with age comes wisdom. And I look at the skies now.

Someone once said that whenever man feels boastful or prideful, all he has to do is to look at the vastness of the universe and see that compared to its majesty, we are simply motes living in the brink of utter mediocrity. It’s quite a grand statement which leaves a lot open to interpretation. In a way, it is true. If the universe is a beach, we are nothing more than a microscopic crease in a single grain of sand.

I missed the Geminid meteor shower earlier this month. It happening on the wee hours of the morning and having no car (it’s still on the works) to take me to the city outskirts and tired from work; I missed it. It would have been a swell sight to behold and I can only console myself with the knowledge that next year, I’ll definitely go and watch it.

The lunar eclipse that just occurred, however, was something that I couldn’t pass up. I had to rush my DSLR acquisition to give myself the chance to see it and capture it. It was a night to remember.

The last time I touched an SLR was way back in college, year 2000. That was when I was a member of a now defunct photography club in my old school. There were no digital SLRs then and we had to learn manual manipulation of aperture settings and the like. I got hooked and with my grandpas SLR in hand, I learned the basics: just enough to give me a working feel for photography. I loved it.

Then, I had to focus on my final years and my grandfather got the camera back. I lost touch with my skills and nine years passed swiftly. After spending a few social gatherings with friends and acquaintances however, with no pictures to go with the memories (and lately realizing that memory really fades with time), I realized that I needed to rekindle my love for photographs. So I bought a point and shoot Canon fixed lens digicam. It served me just fine but as time passed, I also began to see its limitations. I couldn’t really control what I want to capture with it. It sets a limitation to the artistic freedom you have and it left me looking for more.

A chance encounter with a student who’s now a friend rekindled the passion for photography. And finally, after grappling with the decision, I splurged and got his D70S camera (thanks JC, I owe you a lot). Well, I found myself returning to that blissful state I thought I’d never feel again. 

Honestly, my sudden shift to a DSLR from a manual SLR was sudden. After getting it, I had to use it that same night five hours after to capture the lunar eclipse. You can just imagine my nervousness when I had to learn on the fly. 

Anyway, going back to astronomy and the lunar eclipse. I had to walk up from Burnham Lake to SM looking for the shot. I encountered a videographer team of Fil-Chinese descent who were up to the same purpose. We went up to the top floor of SM and stared at the night sky which drew curious stares from the people gathered on the deck. They were probably wondering why we trained our scopes up to the nothingness of the night sky instead of having a subject of people. We paid them no heed. To each his passion, I guess.

We cursed the Baguio night sky. Smog clogged the view and you can actually see the difference of the smog against the clouds. After enduring a one hour vigil with only a few fleeting glimpses of the moon and with time ticking by, we decided to pack up and head to John Hay in the hopes that it is less clogged. Lacking transportation and the taxi line a hundred people deep, we walked briskly to along Military Cutoff drive (or is it called that…) Luckily, we had a break. Having fewer car traffic, the view near Nevada Square was just perfect and we were able to snag a few shots.

It was beautiful, man, I tell you. I might not have had the best pictures owing to my relative greenness in operating my camera but I got enough, I think to reboot my stagnant skills.


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