Students capture dramatic midday twilight during eclipse totality

Animation student Kristy Sorochan operates an 11x14, large-format during the eclipse at the time of totality (3:20 p.m.). Sorochan plans to use the film negatives of their documentation to print on tote bags.

Gray skies didn’t dim the spirits of eclipse documentarians and viewers Monday on the Rochester Institute of Technology campus.

RIT students, faculty, and staff packed onto the lawn area behind the Gordon Field House and Activities Center to witness the rare celestial event. They let out a collective cheer — in excitement and astonishment — when the sky went dark, a chill entered the air, and walkway lights flicked on at 3:20 p.m. 

A cloudy day drastically masked visibility of the sun. But the lively audience and midday twilight painted a unique and dramatic scene that photographers captured during the 3 minutes, 28 seconds of totality. 

“It’s nice to see the RIT community come together for something like this,” said Jackson Baker ’24 (photographic and imaging arts BFA — advertising photography option), who was among the many College of Art and Design students documenting the event. "People travel so far for this so it's nice to be able to stay local."

Kristy Sorochan, a second year animation student, went analog to document the eclipse, deploying an 11x14, large-format camera for the occasion. Sorochan plans to use their film negatives to make cyanotype prints on tote bags to commemorate the moment.  

“As much as I wanted it to be sunny, we know that things don’t always work out,” Sorochan said. “I wanted to go for a more abstract process because that would take away the pressure of capturing the full realism of the situation, leave more up to creativity and chance, and really capture this magical moment. When is Rochester going to have an event like this again?”

While they study 3D animation, Sorochan is a member of Photo House, RIT’s special interest house dedicated to photography, and comes from a lone lineage of photographers they are continuing. 

“I’m a fourth-generation photographer,” Sorochan said. “My parents grew up in the Soviet Union and they were big film photographers back then, and so were their grandparents. I like to tell everyone that 3D animation is just simulated photography because you need a knowledge of how light works, how color stimuli works, and how all those images are rendered in order to create something believable and engaging.”

Being in an environment at RIT, with abundant photography resources, has yielded benefits for Sorochan as both a photographer and animator.

“I find a lot of inspiration from the photo school here at RIT,” Sorochan said. “Being exposed to a lot of that helped me grow my interest in photography and find the interdisciplinary connection between that and animation.”

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