About this photo: We're continuing Thematic's exploration of the natural world. You are, of course, invited. Just follow your mouse here. And enjoy.As I write this, the planet Venus has now completed its six-ish hour trek - aka the Transit of Venus - across the surface of the sun. It didn't really crawl across the sun's surface, of course. It only seemed that way, as the smog-choked planet made its second of a twice-in-a-lifetime trips directly between our planet and our nearest star. It was like an eclipse, only way the hell cooler.
I was out for dinner with our little man, and we were excitedly talking about how history was taking place in the skies over our heads Right Now. I pulled up some live photos on my BlackBerry and we oohed and aahed for a bit. I'm sure the elderly couple out on a date beside us thought we were a little imbalanced. We smiled meekly at them as we continued our discussion. We looked up the world's oldest folks online - 115 years-old - and figured somewhere in the world there are babies and young children out there who will also lead super-long lives and live to see the next transit in 2117. He thought that was cool. So did I.
Eventually, we finished up, headed home, made nice to the dog, and then I headed to my office to string together a bunch more words, as heavenly show or no heavenly show a deadline awaited me. Then the phone rang: Our friend was a few blocks away, watching the show in the sky. As the sun was going to set in about 15 minutes, it was either now or never. We dropped everything and scooted the few blocks to meet him. Yup, that's me: Responsible dad and journalist. But that whole once-in-a-lifetime thing resonated in my head. So we went.
Admittedly, shooting the scene was a bear and a half. Even at minimum aperture (f40), minimum shutter speed (1/4,000 sec), minimum ISO and minimum exposure compensation (-5 stops), it was still overexposed. So we waited. And waited. And waited some more for the sun to drop toward the horizon. I figured it would soften as it got lower. And I was shockingly right.
Little man excitedly watched the scene through filtered glasses. I rather stupidly composed, focused and exposed the camera away from the sun, then blindly pointed it toward the ginormous gasbag, said a little prayer and tripped the shutter. I kept my eyes closed because going blind would have likely ruined the experience for all of us.
Why did we do this admittedly irrational thing? Because sometimes, you just have to drop all semblance of responsibility and just enjoy the moment. Because had I been a good little soldier and stayed home for the 30 minutes it took us to watch history, it would have been just another night for our son. Thanks to a friend who thought differently, it ended up being a night he'll remember for the rest of his life. May he live long enough to see it again.
Your turn: A time you threw caution to the wind, just because. Please discuss.
Related: Watching our son watch Venus (the meta-photo) - August 27, 2012