Ewoks assist photographing solar eclipse

You know who loves solar eclipses? Ewoks.

With a 93% partial solar eclipse, I wanted to photograph the cool crescent-shaped shadows that form on the ground by the blocked sun. But something needs to hold up the card with a hole punched in it. Why, Ewok figures of course!

Using Ewok toy figures as assistants adds a layer of charm and fantasy that makes the experience even more memorable. Here are a few playful reasons why Ewoks are the perfect choice for photographing the eclipse:

  1. Natural Forest Engineers: Known for their ingenuity and ability to construct elaborate traps and dwellings in the forests of Endor, Ewoks are naturally skilled at creating structures. This makes them perfectly suited to holding up your eclipse-viewing card. Their knack for engineering ensures the card is held at just the right angle to capture the crescent sun.
    Although, it was a bit tricky getting the card to stay put in the Ewok’s hands. Thankfully, these are fancy Ewok figures with lots of points of articulation.
  2. Guardians of Nature: Ewoks live in harmony with their environment, showing great respect for the natural world. Who better to help capture the beauty of a natural phenomenon like a solar eclipse than these guardians of the forest? Their participation adds a touch of harmony and respect for nature to the photograph.
  3. Courageous and Resourceful: Despite their small size, Ewoks are known for their courage and resourcefulness, having played a pivotal role in the Battle of Endor. These qualities make them undaunted helpers in the face of the majestic and awe-inspiring solar eclipse, ready to tackle any challenge that comes their way in capturing the perfect shot.
  4. A Symbol of Hope and Light: Just as the solar eclipse is a rare and striking event, the Ewoks themselves are symbols of hope and resilience, overcoming great odds with their light-hearted courage. Using them to capture the eclipse highlights the contrast between light and dark, both in the sky and in the tales of their heroism.
  5. A Touch of Whimsy: Let’s not forget the sheer whimsy of using Ewok figures for such a task. It gives the act of photographing the eclipse with a sense of playfulness and creativity, reminding us that science and art are not just about serious observation but also about experiencing joy and wonder in the process.

Employing Ewoks as your assistants in capturing the solar eclipse not only makes for a unique photographic technique, but also creates a narrative of ingenuity, respect for nature, courage, hope, and whimsy. It’s a reminder that sometimes, the most magical moments come from blending the wonders of our universe with the imaginative tales that inspire us.

Right before the eclipse, I ran a test shot to see how the setup would work. Wow, I was incredibly off in my science. I actually thought that a giant hole would generate the crescent shape. And I wanted that crescent shape to be BIG. Thankfully, I made a bunch of different-sized holes in various cardboard sheets, including smaller holes.

The size of the hole I ended up using was created by a hole punch. To get the crescent shape to appear in the shadow, I had to hold the the cardboard about four feet off the ground. Our grill sitting nearby would work pretty nice. The grill cover provides a simple black background. In this photo, you can see the Ewoks standing on top of the grill.

I kept trying to get both the Ewoks AND the shadow in the pic at the same time. Of course, one would be sharp, and the other fuzzy. So I would shoot the same layout where the Ewoks were in focus. And then shoot another shot where the shadow was in focus. I figured that later in Photoshop, I would do some “focus stacking” to merge the two exposures together. Yeah. That didn’t work very well. So we end up with the collage format. Where I put two images side-by-side.

This side-by-side collage of one image being close to the viewer, and the other image being further away reminds me of when I would throw paper airplanes from elevated train station platforms.

Anyhow, back to the Ewoks. Featured in the eclipse photos are Wicket and Paploo.

Wicket

Wicket is the short Ewok. In “Return of the Jedi,” he’s the first Ewok who meets Princess Leia.

I got the Wicket figure for Christmas. It was a joy to receive, because these “Black Series” figures are pretty expensive for an action figure ($25 each). I like Wicket so much that I tend to carry him around to various places for random photo shoots.

Here is Wicket waiting for our 7-year-old to arrive after Religious Education.

He also comes in handy when my 4-year-old daughter needs a toy distraction. I just bust him out of my pocket like magic. “Daddy, you were carrying Ewok with you?” “Of course, my daughter, that’s what Daddy does.”

Paploo

Since Wicket is such a big hit in our house, I went searching for Paploo. Someone was selling him for a discount of $17 on Amazon. I couldn’t believe the “low” price, because usually, people increase the prices once toys have been out for a while—not decrease the price. I jumped all over that. He arrived about a week before the solar eclipse, but I didn’t take him out of the package right away. I wanted to take him out when I needed a little joy boost.

When the eclipse rolled around, I knew I needed two Ewoks to help hold up the cardboard. Now was the time. Paploo got busted out. I was surprised at how much bigger he is than Wicket. But I guess Wicket is a kid, so it makes sense that Wicket would be smaller. I’ve gotten so used to the size of the smaller Wicket that the larger Paploo figure feels like the size of a Stay Puft Marshmellow Man. Paploo has some mass.

It was pretty neat to have my first photos of Paploo taken during the solar eclipse.

Also, Paploo is the Ewok in “Return of the Jedi” who steals the speeder bike.

Next on my list is Teebo.

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