It was really a spur of the moment shoot.
My wife (at right in photo) was online and noticed the shuttle was launching in about an hour. I stepped outside to see how the weather looked and saw a wonderfully clear sky. My daughter and I started looking for places to shoot in my neighborhood and thought of the pond because of the wide expanse of water (no trees to block the view and the possibility of a reflection).
After slogging through some mud in the dark to get to a concrete bank overlooking the pond, I set up my 5d Mark II on a tripod and put two SB-800s on PocketWizards on camera right and left. When we saw the glow of the shuttle below the tree line, I took three 30 second exposures at f/8, ISO 800 (without the strobes firing) in immediate succession as the flame trail rose above the horizon. Then I put the camera on timer, turned the Pocket Wizard transmitter on, and ran to be with my family to expose an image of us and watch the last little blip of the shuttle disappear behind a bank of pines to the northeast.
I processed all the files in Lightroom and plopped them on top of eachother using a screen blending mode in PhotoShop. That’s the workaround I use to do multiple exposures since most DSLRs (including the 5D) won’t do them in-camera.
Family portraits are always the hardest for me, so I was overjoyed to get both the shuttle and my ‘ohana in the same frame. As far as the shuttle coming up in exactly the right place, that was a gift. I knew it would come up somewhere in that vicinity, but when I saw it lining up the way it did, I had to stop and give thanks. (via Strobist: Night Shuttle)
This shot of STS-128 is by far my favorite launch picture ever, taken by local photographer Jon Fletcher. It captures so many amazing things about the shuttle program: the unparalleled beauty of a night launch; the human element in what is an intensely complicated technological feat; and the juxtaposition of that technology with the natural, swampy and uniquely Southern environment.
The composition calls to mind old conceptual art, those artists projections of “What will the year 2000 look like?” They’re are fun to look now, all kitsch and silliness with their Jetsons style (where is my flying car???) But this is what 2009 really looked like, the dream brought to life. The photo contains a perfect blend of the same awe and wonder that was present at the beginning of the space program, and the casualness of space travel that was planned for the shuttle program, but didn’t really materialize.
My recent photo and post about STS-1 is still making the rounds here on Tumblr, which is very nice and led me to post Jon’s picture now. It is so unique and intensely personal, and a real treasure for Jon and his family.
This is fantastic.