Donald Slater Accomplishes Lifelong Dream Of Photographing Eclipse

Fulfilling a lifelong dream of his, Donald Slater, Instructor in History and Social Sciences, managed to capture the moments of the August 21 solar eclipse on his camera. His photographs are now displayed outside of Kemper Auditorium.

“This is actually what I saw when I watched the eclipse. The pictures describe what I saw through the glasses very well. You couldn’t really tell the eclipse was happening until it happened. This diagram of the eclipse really shows the parts I didn’t see unless through the glasses, so it’s interesting to get a more clear view from his photos,” said Lucy Kisova ’20.

On Wednesday night, Slater gave a presentation of his pictures in Kemper Auditorium. He talked about his dream of seeing the solar eclipse and described the long process of preparing to photograph it. Slater also provided an educational view on how the eclipse occurred and the science behind it.

“I believe that I learned a lot from this presentation. It taught me more about astronomy and how just the moon going over the sun could be such an extravagant experience. It really opened my eyes to experience the beauty of nature. Nature is just so beautiful and the eclipse showed me that there is more to look to than just everyday things,” said Sekou Cisse ’21.

A composite image of Slater’s photographs shows the evolution of the eclipse. The shape of the sun resembles lunar phases until the moon begins to completely cover the sun. After the blackness of the total eclipse, the sun moved away from the moon oppositely.

“I find the symmetry of the pictures really cool,” said Hywot Ayana ’20. “We always learn about phases of the moon but to see the same thing happen but on the sun is awesome. Even if you got to experience the eclipse, which I did not get to, being able to see it in full sequence in such great detail is really impressive.”

Slater also took a series of photos of the moments of totality, when the moon blocked the sun. In one picture, the corner light appears red, contrasting against the pitch black of both space and shadow.

“I think these black photos are really cool too. They kind of remind me of something out of a science fiction movie with the way that the light kind of pokes out from behind the moon. I didn’t see the eclipse from where I was, but it’s giving me a visual on what it could have looked like,” said Ayana.

Slater began his passion for photography while in college. Over the years, he expanded his knowledge by reading books and upgrading his cameras and equipment. The eclipse allowed him to combine his love for astronomy with photography.

Slater said, “Totality is so otherworldly. It’s one of the most wonderful things I’ve ever experienced in my life. It was dramatic for me. It was something that I’ve always wanted to see. I’d built it up in my mind so much over the entire course of my life. Then to see it and still be blown away, to have all expectations exceeded, it was remarkable.”